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Interview Tip: Rework Your Workaholic Answer

You may go above and beyond to get your job done, but stay away from using the word workaholic in a job interview. When you're asked about a workplace weakness, employers want to hear something more thoughtful than a contrived answer suggesting you will put their company at the top of your priorities. Even if you're truly a workaholic, but many employers would see it as a cop-out answer that doesn't indicate much about your ability to do the job.

Instead, try approaching the weakness question with a productive answer. The Wall Street Journal spoke with a New York psychologist who gave a great example of what I'm referring to: He recommended saying something like, "My weakness is I get bored by routine," as an example of how to respond when interviewing with a start-up. This technique can easily be applied to any position you're after.


Join The Conversation
designerel designerel 8 years
Hm I'm confused. Is "I'm a workaholic" the answer to what's your biggest strength, or what's your biggest weakness? Haha. Some of the comments seem to reflect both. My answer to the weakness question is, "I have a lot of pride and I hate asking for help. I'm very independent." Luckily, the interviewer said she was the same way.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I avoid the "workaholic" answer because some employers might misconstrue that as "I like getting lots of overtime" and some employers may not be willing to do that. I always say "I am prepared to finish the task at hand. If that means staying late, I will. If it means coming in for a couple of hours on the weekend, I'll do that too. I'm very results-oriented". They usually like that one.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Ugh, perfectionist is worse than workaholic. It's almost as bad as "I care too much!" I like the idea above about sharing something you've struggled with and then talking about how you overcome it. Mine would probably be either one, that I have a tough time accepting criticism without letting it get me completely bummed out, but that when I managed my team and I was the one who often had to give out corrections, it helped me realize that when I was correcting someone else, I still liked them and thought they were a good person, just someone who needed to learn something or needed to be educated, so now that I've been on both sides I think it's helped me get pretty good at keeping a stiff upper lip even if I feel crushed and that helps me take that criticism or correction and learn from it instead of being so bummed. Or two, that I am somewhat forgetful, but that I cope with it by writing everything down. I would give an example of how I would always forget to do this one paperwork thing, and so I added it to my checklist I use for every client so I wouldn't forget it, or how I put my keys on top of my dry cleaning so I wouldn't leave the house without it. That answers the question but lets me talk about one of my strengths, which is that I anticipate my own shortcomings and work to set myself up for success. Honestly, when I interview potential new hires and they give a cheesy answer like "perfectionist" or "workaholic" I will sometimes ask them for another answer, or I make a joke, like "What would you say is an area of weakness, and don't say you work too hard or that you're a perfectionist!"
syako syako 8 years
sonya, I do something similar (or a variation of that). To be perfectly honest, I think it's one of the most trite questions an interviewer can ask, and it really turns me off to the company when I hear it.
sonya-ina sonya-ina 8 years
On job interviews I've had, when asked that question I usually say, "I'm a perfectionist." That always seems to go over pretty well!
wmoonw wmoonw 8 years
I hated this question because it's so tough! . . . I didn't want to tell them the canned "workaholic" I ended up telling them that I got nervous giving presentations, and then I told them a bunch of ways that I got around it, like practicing and all the presentations I gave in college. It probably only worked because I was applying for a keyboard-monkey, thermal analysis job, though. But I think having examples of what you're going to do about your weakness is helpful on this question!
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
good advice...
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