Poll Of The Week #1: How to answer, what is your biggest weakness?

by Rich DeMatteo on July 20, 2009 · 0 comments

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Wonderful, the results are in!  Thanks to those for voting on our very first Poll of the Week!  COTJ fans were given three incredibly exciting topics and needed to pick which one they most wanted to learn about.  In the end, our results went like this:

  • First Place:  64%  “How to answer the question, What is your biggest weakness?”
  • Tie for Second Place: 18%  “Resume Tips” and “Using Twitter as a job search tool”.

Thanks, again for voting.  The other two topics will be covered at another point in time, or thrown back into a Poll of the Week in the future.  OK, moving along to what you’re waiting for, this week’s answer!

First, I must say that this question is absolutely awful.  Appears like I’m not alone in this belief, because recruiters/interviewers are finally taking this question out.  In my opinion, using this old school interview question is quite lazy.  The purpose of this question is to see if any of the skills or behaviors that are critical to the position are on the candidates “weak list”.  In my opinion, other interview techniques are much better at determining this, specifically Behavioral Interviewing is the best at doing this.  To read up on Behavioral Interviewing click here.  Along with being useful, this is also a question that many candidates expect and practice for, and now job seekers have a new weapon…me!  Here is our Do and Don’t list for answering a question regarding your biggest weakness.

The Don’t List

  • Do not answer with one of those popular canned responses you’ve heard before like, “I work too hard”, or “Sometimes, I care too much about my projects”.  Experienced interviewers (hopefully aren’t asking the question) have heard it all, and your answer will do nothing to make you stand out.
  • Do not say, “I don’t have any weaknesses”.  No ones perfect, we all have weaknesses.  Successful people pick careers where their weaknesses won’t come into play.
  • Do not lie and make up a fake weakness.  You may say something that triggers another question on that weakness, and then your caught in a run down.  I only suggest lying to those incredibly experienced liars, con artists, or the man Leonardo DiCaprio played in “Catch Me If You Can”.  Do you concur?

The Do List

  • Do answer this question honestly.  Before your interview spend time thinking about areas that you need to work on.  Possibly you have an area that you can work on easily, that will be perfect to bring up in the interview.  If one of your weak areas is public speaking, start taking public speaking classes, or even start small and give presentations to friends.  You can also sign up for a project or committee at work that gives you the opportunity to talk to small groups.  Then not only have you worked on your weak area, you can also bring this up on an interview when asked about it.
  • Do review the job description before your interview.  This gives you a chance to see which skill sets are needed.  If more than a few of your weak areas show up, then I’m not too sure why you’ve applied in the first place.  This also gives you a chance to think of your weak areas that do not show up on the job description.  Talk about one of those weaknesses, and again show how you are looking to improve on it.  The recruiter or interviewer will take note of it, but won’t cross you off the list since your weakness is not a critical skill set for the position.

We can only hope that as another decade passes, questions like these will be replaced with better interviewing techniques.  For now, use these tips above and your weakness will pass with flying colors.  Do you concur?  I love that movie.

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