People love or hate this question. Joanna Zobjeck of Joanna Zobjeck Graphic Design shared, ” I really hate that question. It’s so low effort and tired. It’s also in almost every stinking interview – probably from a top 10 interview questions print out. They should ask instead, “what skill are you currently working on improving?” or “what would you like to improve or work toward as you progress in your career”

Why do interviewers ask this question?

Interviewers want to know how self-aware you are and what you are doing to grow and improve. If you share that your greatness weakness is a key part of the job you’re interviewing for, this question has the potential of screening out candidates.

Personally, I think there is value in asking this question, especially for certain roles, such as recruiting, sales and related positions. Recruiting, since recruiters should know what common interview questions are and how to answer them well. Sales, because sales people need to be able to think quickly and answer persuasively.

Regardless of your thoughts on the value of this question, it is used often enough that you need to prepare for it.

How to answer, “What is your greatest weakness?”

  1. First, share an actual weakness, but don’t list a weakness that is a key function of the job you’re applying to (if that’s the case, you are probably applying to the wrong job).
  2. Finish by sharing how you are working on overcoming this weakness or how you leverage your strengths to get around this weakness.

Example: I’m not very good at public speaking, although I feel I have very valuable information that people would find useful, I get very nervous in front of large crowds. I’m working on overcoming this by joining Toastmasters and giving presentations in front of smaller groups.

Alternative answer to “What is your greatness weakness?”

If humor and reporting to someone who has a sense of humor is important to you, try:

“Chocolate chip cookie dough ice-cream” (or whatever your dietary weakness is)

This was my answer the last time I was asked this question and I got the job!

Warning: this could backfire, but if it does, do you really want to work for someone who doesn’t have a sense of humor?

How not to answer, “what is your greatest weakness?”

Avoid the strength disguised as a weakness answer, “I’m a perfectionist”, “I’m a workaholic” or “I have little patience for people on my team who don’t pull their own weight”. These are boring and transparent and can hurt your credibility by showing that you lack self-awareness of your weaknesses.

None of us are perfect and we should all have the self-awareness to find one imperfection, that’s not critical to the job, that we can share.

How have you answered this question? 

Recruiters, do you ask this question?

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