Interview questions: what’s your greatest weakness?

Blog: The ‘what are your weaknesses’ interview question?

I’ve been having a conversation on Twitter after reading a call to interviewers to ditch the ‘what’s your greatest weakness?’ question, and just talk about the job itself, instead.

I got to wondering about the thinking behind telling us to ditch these questions. Yes, everyone ends up turning their weaknesses into a strength, and few candidates will reveal a significant weakness.

So does the question serve any purpose?

I always advise candidates to avoid the wrong answer [‘I don’t have any’], comedy answers (‘chocolate’) and disguised boasts (‘I’m a shocking perfectionist, just can’t rest til it’s perfect – terrible, I know, but that’s just the way I’m made!’).

It’s a great way to highlight your attitude to self development – what you’re actively doing to deal with something that could become an issue – and helps you feel more confident about acknowledging that nobody’s perfect and we can all learn.

Preparing to answer those questions, even if they’re never asked, helps boost a candidate’s confidence in their own abilities and self worth, and the interviewer can benefit from seeing that in action.

Underneath, it’s really not about a weakness list!

Philippa Hammond

Confident Public Speaking for leadership, management and business

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