You’re in an interview, things seem to be going well, and then they ask one of the most commonly asked, and most poorly answered questions: “What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?”
Common thinking has been to give an answer that turns a negative into a positive; like: “My biggest weakness is that I work too hard and don’t know when to turn it off sometimes.” Or “I push myself too hard.” Or else people answer “I can’t think of any.” Or “I don’t have any!”.
Saying you don’t know indicates you’re either clueless about yourself, or essentially telling them “I’m not going to answer that because it will hurt my chances at this job.” Not a good response. Telling them you have none makes you seem like you’re very full of yourself! Also not a good response.
So, how should that question be answered? Think in terms of what might make you an attractive candidate. What are they looking for? None of us, not me, and not you is perfect. We all have faults and real weaknesses. Generally, an interviewer is attracted to someone that’s real, self-aware, and honest.
Don’t do this in your interview –
What is the purpose of this question?
- Interviewer is not really interested in your weakness.
- He/she wants to know how self aware you are.
- They wants to know if there is anything which is critical for the job profile you are applying for.
- How honest and real you are.
I personally do not like humble-bragging. And this is the most common answer to this question. There was a study on it and researchers were more interested in hiring the candidates who gave honest answers.
You can read this article. ‘Humblebragging’ Is A Bad Strategy, Especially In A Job Interview. Or you can read full research paper .
Summary of the paper is –
When asked “What’s your biggest weakness?” 122 college students answered the question, and two research assistants rated each response based on whether the respondent seemed like an attractive job candidate. 77% of participants chose to humblebrag rather than disclose an obvious weakness—the most common answers focused on perfectionism (32.8%), working too hard (24.6%), and niceness to a fault (14.8%). 66% said they did so strategically. But it turned out to be a bad strategy
So what should we do:
- Talk about a genuine weakness, but one that will not adversely affect the kind of work you will do.
- Be honest. Don’t play games.
- As discussed above, do not humblebragg.
- Pick some skill you are not good at and which is not relevant to this job.
- Tell a story where you learned from your mistake.
- Give a weakness which is genuine one but is acceptable generally.
Although many good Interviewers really hate this questions and they don’t ask it in any interviews. But an inexperienced interviewer may ask it, so you need to be prepared.
At last – be honest but don’t do this –