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How to Answer the What Is Your Biggest Weakness Interview Question

Recruiters' Tips on How to Answer the Weakness Question

Interviews tend to be relatively formulaic, and one thing we can count on is hearing the what is your biggest weakness question. "I don't know," isn't a sufficient answer — same goes for, "I don't have any weaknesses." The majority of you may have declared your hatred for the question, but that doesn't preclude you from having to come up with a passable answer.

Yahoo asked its Recruiter Roundtable for tips on how to answer the precarious question and make the interviewer feel like it's a genuine response. See the highlights from the recruiters' answers when you


  • "Tell hiring managers what you are working on improving and what you've done to build your skills in these areas. One thing to keep in mind: If one of your weaknesses is directly related to the position and could potentially take you out of the running, the opportunity may not be right for you."
  • "Match the job duties with your strengths. What is a strength you have that someone may consider as a weakness? For example, if you applied to a very detail-oriented job, and say your weakness is you are a perfectionist. The hiring manager needs someone that pays close attention to the little things."
  • Will your answer match your references? It is a way for employers to assess the candidate's awareness of his or her own strengths and weaknesses.
  • "Be honest and focus on a weakness that is not one of the top three qualities required for the job. Also, be sure to describe how you've already taken steps and made strides in strengthening this skill, showing your ability and desire to constantly learn and grow."


theloveshack theloveshack 8 years
i usually say that i'm overly detail-oriented, which i am. i used to say i was a perfectionist, but like one person said, it's overused and probably a typical answer. i really like the "i don't like idle hands" response because that is also true for me. i detest the weird "character" questions that always seem to come out of left field. "if you could be an animal, what would you be and why?" "if you were stuck on a deserted island, who would you bring and why?" all of those things. half the times i just want to stay afloat and the other half i want to give a startling answer so that i stick out. it's a fine line. i hate interviewing.
emalone0000 emalone0000 9 years
A guy I know was asked this question in an interview (to handle communications for a member of Congress) and he said with a straight face, "My biggest weakness is self-evaluation." They laughed, he got the job. I wouldn't recommend for most people though!
geebers geebers 9 years
bigestive (haha love the name btw) - i have an opposite weakness! I tend to go in and figure out different ways to address a problem before I go to the boss. I have always worked independently and like problem-solving but my biggest weakness really is not asking questions. It is funny how in some jobs asking questions is a plus whereas my current and last job was really more tailored for someone who was able to figure it out because rarely was anyone around to train you or help.
Da-Ly Da-Ly 9 years
Bah, hit submit before I was done. But the weakness question, I say that I don't like having idle hands.
Da-Ly Da-Ly 9 years
I got asked critical thinking questions once. "Why are manhole covers round, not square?" and "You're in the desert, it's 100 degress outside, one tire bursts. You were going to put the spare on, but you lost two lugnuts in the sand. What do you do?" The answer for the manhole ones is that a round one never has to be properly fitted and will never fall through the hole whereas square ones can. And for the desert, my order was "Call AAA, find some shade. If that's not an option, if you really want to be determined, pull a Macguyver and make an electromagnet out of car parts and stuff in your car. But the easy way out is to remove a lugnut from one of the other tires to balance it out." And then one of those curveball out of nowhere questions I once received was "You're throwing a dinner party and can invite three guests of honour. Who do you invite?" I said the three iron chefs so they can cook and we can all judge. The interviewer really liked that answer.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
When I interviewed for the job I'm currently in, I said my weakness is that I ask too many questions because I have a fear of not getting things exactly right. The person interviewing me, who is now my boss, said that that was actually a quality she looked for in candidates because she'd rather I ask too many questions and get it right (since we deal with legal documents and copyright law) than sit there quietly and send off something wrong!
thelorax thelorax 9 years
I think most of us are somewhat new in the workforce - one way I have answered this question in the past is choosing something (small) that is involved in the position you're applying for that you haven't technically done before. You can say, well, it could be seen as a weakness that I don't technically have experience doing (fill in minor detail here) but I HAVE done (fill in X,Y,Z more impressive, similar things here) and I'm confident that I'll adapt quickly. This way you're kind of stretching out your "skills, experience, training" section of your resume and not actually appearing weak at all.
juju4 juju4 9 years
I have been away from the boards for a while, but have there been any posts on behavioral interviewing? I had to go through about 4 hours of behavioral interviewing, and it was really challenging! My problem was that I was at one incredibly fast-paced position for 5 years, and trying to pull very specific examples from my work history just felt awkward. My work wasn't project-based, so some of the questions didn't really apply.
kwikwit kwikwit 9 years
I always say spelling. It's easily caught through spell-checker and people can relate.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i hate this question so much - since i feel like when i'm asked this question that i don't have a GOOD answer. i know that a lot of my weaknesses are just in being out there and having the experience. i like to think that i'm very good at my job and very well suited for it and the only thing now is to make the next moves up in position, and you have to be careful with how you phrase things i guess. my fiance is a recruiter and he's never very helpful in giving me suggestions on what to say since he really has no clue at all what it is that i he tells me that my responses to that questions are textbook.... i need HELLPPPPP!!!
lawchick lawchick 9 years
I agree biblio - that and "I take on too much"
bibliophile bibliophile 9 years
These are all good tips, thanks! Though I would like to point out that the "perfectionist" response to the weakness question is overused and employers might not be impressed with that particular answer.
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