Answering “What is your Greatest Weakness?”

January 18th, 2013

Is it a trick question or do they want you to answer honestly? How exactly do you know how to answer when an interviewer asks about your greatest weakness? Do you need to tell them how bad you are at something or can you spin a positive attribute into a negative one? Here are some tips for navigating the muddy waters of the weakness questions.

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Interviewers can tell if you’re making something up on the spot. It can result in a less than positive interaction. Think about this question long and hard before you ever make it to the interview; you will likely be asked some form of it. Think of a way to answer this question that is thoughtful and provides some real insight into you as a person and a candidate for their position.
  2. Avoid the key requirements. Whatever you do, don’t answer this question with something that specifically contradicts the core requirements of the job itself. Prepare for the interview by understanding the company and the job description. If you know the position involves entering information into a customer website and incorrect data can result in significant revenue loss; don’t tell the interviewer that you have trouble paying attention to details.
  3. Challenge, action, result. Professional career coaches recommend using this approach to answer this question. Determine what the most challenging part of your example is, the action you took to correct it, and the positive outcome of the overall situation. Most interviewers don’t like the “turning a positive into a negative” answer to this question because it inevitably sounds fake, but this answer format still provides valuable information about your weakness but ends with a positive result. It gets you to the same place.
  4. Don’t recite cliché answers. Recruiters hear things all the time like “I’m a perfectionist.” This answer doesn’t provide any concrete information it is just regurgitating things that we know are negative. If you really feel as though your perfectionism is your biggest weaknesses consider rewording your answer. You could tell them that you have trouble giving up control of projects because you want to make sure every detail is perfect. Remember to provide an action and a positive result. Tell them that you seek out other members of the team with strong skills and learn to rely on their expertise.

Are you looking for ways to creatively answer the most common interview questions? Meador Staffing can provide helpful advice for your job search.