How not to answer the “Weakness” question

Here are five ways not to answer the question:  “Tell me about your main weakness”.

I don’t have a weakness
Everyone has a weakness.  In fact everyone has several weaknesses.  If you don’t know your weakness then you lack self-awareness and self-awareness is what this question is trying to uncover.  Of course you could say your weakness is lack of self-awareness, but I wouldn’t.

I don’t suffer fools gladly
Then you’d better become an artist who doesn’t sell their work.  Fools surround us all and we have to suffer them.  This is possibly the smuggest and most transparent answer you can give.  All it is trying to say is “I’m clever and I don’t have time for people who aren’t clever like me (and you, the interviewer)”.  It doesn’t wash.  It’s such a cliché that it actually makes you look like a fool.

I’m not very good at managing my diary 
Big deal.  You’ve probably got someone to manage your diary for you.  You may as well tell them you don’t make good coffee.  However senior you are, find a weakness that is relevant to your level of seniority, not several ranks below.

How long have you got?
OK, so honesty is generally a good principle at work, but that doesn’t mean you need to demonstrate it by telling the interviewer that you are not afraid to admit you have loads of weaknesses.  When you go into the room be ready with two weaknesses and offer the first.  If they ask for another then offer that one.  Don’t encourage the interviewer to turn the question into a confessional.

honesty 1Honesty 2

Not explaining how you manage your weakness
Admitting to a weakness is only the start point of the answer.  The remainder is explaining how you manage that weakness.  Remember this when you tell the interviewer that you don’t suffer fools gladly.

If you want to learn how to answer this question well, and garner plenty of other useful interview skills, join me on March 21st in London for my Interview Preparation workshop.  Click here for further details and registration

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