Should You Tell
Interviewers Your Biggest Weakness?
It's the question job applicants fear
most: "So tell me," says the smiling interviewer, "what's your biggest
If you think a good answer is you're
"a perfectionist who won't quit until the job's done right," think again.
The interviewer has probably heard the same thing from countless other
applicants and doesn't believe it's a weakness any more than you do.
According to Vicky Oliver, author of
301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, the worst thing
you can do is give your interviewer a "canned" answer, such as saying you
are a workaholic.
Applicants who give such a typical
answer may be perceived as dishonest or unoriginal. The interviewer is
likely to say, "That sounds like a strength to me. What's another weakness
Oliver is one of 40 career experts
and hiring managers who recently gave us their best tips for handling the
weakness question. Here's a summary of their advice:
why employers ask
According to Carole Martin, author
of Boost Your Interview IQ, interviewers ask the weakness question
to find out "What's wrong with you?" and "What risks are we taking by hiring
Some employers ask just to see how
you respond. "They may not be as interested in your answer as they are
in seeing how well you maintain your composure and think under pressure,"
says career counselor Deborah Schneider, co-author of Should You Really
Be a Lawyer?
Being honest doesn't just benefit the
interviewer, it also ensures you don't end up in a job you'll hate. "If
you hate details and find that you lack the interest to focus on them to
the degree needed to avoid mistakes, just say so," says Joe Santana, co-author
of Manage I.T.
confess something big
"Interviewees will often blurt potentially
damaging information by revealing real weaknesses," says organizational
psychologist Billie G. Blair, president/CEO of Leading and Learning.
The key is not to disclose anything
that can make you seem like a problem worker. For example, the experts
recommend you shouldn't say "I'm often late", "I have difficulty getting
along with co-workers" or "I'm not good at finishing projects."
Admit a minor
"Confessing that you're 'impatient'
is a small weakness that often goes hand in hand with high performance,"
But present your weakness with a positive
spin. John Putzier, author of Weirdos in the Workplace! The New Normal
says instead of saying you are impatient with others, answer "I am results
oriented and find that I must be more patient with those who are not."
Admit a weakness
that can be fixed
After acknowledging your weakness,
tell the employer what you are doing to overcome it.
For example, if time management is
your weakness you could say "Because I am busy, time management is often
a problem for me, so I have recently purchased a PDA to help me become
better organized," suggests Tim Augustine, author of How Hard Are You
Knocking: The Job Seeker's Guide to Opening Career Doors.
Or "I used to get nervous about speaking
in front of groups, but I have been taking public speaking classes and
have become much more comfortable with it," says Schneider.
If impatience is your weakness, Martin
offers this possible answer: "I know I could improve my patience when working
with people who don't work at the same pace as I do. What I have found
is that by helping members of the team who are having problems, I can move
the project forward instead of being frustrated and doing nothing."
"Practice responding to this question
ahead of time - out loud," says Allison Hemming, author of Work It!
and president of The Hired Guns, a recruiting firm in Manhattan . "It'll
take you a few dry runs before you sound succinct and articulate. But the
hard work will pay off when you find yourself psyched rather than panicked
when the weakness question does come up."
And, finally, if you do decide to be
completely honest about your biggest weakness, consider this response from
Danny Kiss, a New York lawyer: " My biggest weakness? I would say chocolate,
especially milk chocolate. A nice piece of milk chocolate makes me weak
in the knees."
To discover how to break into the
career of your dreams click to see the list of dream careers at www.FabJob.com.