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The Weakness Question

PhotonicsPays
Jan 2007

You're sitting in a conference room or office, face-to-face with the person you most want to impress - your prospective boss - and he or she is asking you, "What is your biggest weakness?" How do you answer a question like that?

The good news is, it's a job interview, not a confessional. No one expects you to demonize yourself in hopes of appearing forthright. After all, you are selling yourself and you want the interviewer to buy, not pass.

You could try stalling - think hard for a minute or two and answer something to the effect of, "I can't really think of any aspect of my personality that has compromised my performance at work. All of my performance reviews have been positive and I've never had any problems with past employers." The problem with this approach, though, is that you run the risk of appearing smug.

A better approach to take with the weakness question is to answer it honestly in a way that makes you look positive. Try to come up with a problem or difficulty you had at work a long time ago - the farther back, the better. Explain how that one minor flaw affected your performance in a way that enabled you to correct the problem and learn from it. This will show your employer how you have learned from a mistake.

"The classic 'weakness' answers are those where the weakness is a strength in disguise," said Jenn Schraut, Human Resources and Compensation Associate at Salary.com. "But avoid the blatant, overused ones, like, 'My problem is, I work too hard'," she said.

With the weakness question, you'd better be prepared. If you think of something on the spot, your example might have flaws you don't have time to think about.

- Brian Braiker, Salary.com contributor
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