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What is your greatest weakness?

Consider this a trick question. It’s not a good idea to list important weaknesses, because those become marks against you. This question is really designed to determine the candidate’s personality. Given that everyone knows this question will be asked, it’s important to answer it seriously, directly, and honestly.

Whether it’s a good question or not, it is an opportunity to make a strong positive impression. If you know a little bit about the company, the job, and even the interviewer, it can help you answer the question. For example, if the job is software development, you might describe a weakness as mathematics that was met by studying extra hard in HS and college.

A cliche answer is “my greatest weakness is that I work too hard.” That should impress them. But they might know you’re trying to impress them with a bogus answer. Avoid mentioning a strength disguised as a weakness. Avoid the cliche answers such as “I hate to talk about my weaknesses.”

Avoid mentioning anything that would negatively impact your work in a concrete way. The best answer includes mentioning some real but minor flaw, along with a plan or action through which it is being addressed.

Some good answers:

Sometimes lose track of deadlines
“I tend to get caught up in details so much I might lose track of time. But when I use my calendar I find I keep my appointments and keep on schedule.”

Not the Smartest One
“I’m not as fast as some people in grasping things, so I take a little extra time to study and prepare.”

Not a Great Memory
“Sometimes I forget things, so I take a lot of notes and make sure to maintain my calendar.”

Mention how a past shortcoming was fixed.
“I used to constantly interrupt people, but I focused on letting people finish. Now I’m considered a good listener.”

Explain how the job is an opportunity to improve.
This takes knowledge of the job and company. “I used to let “no” get to me, but I’ve improved my sales skills and plan to watch and listen here to learn as much as possible from my new associates.”

Describe a good piece of advice someone gave you. “The CEO of my former company told me always to surround myself with the smartest people, that’s why I’d like to work here.”

The funniest answer we’ve heard? “If I cut my hair, I lose my strength.”

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