26 November 2021

What Is Your Greatest Weakness?


Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.


Career development


There’s quite a few (thousands) articles detailing how you’re supposed to answer the dreaded interview question: “What’s your greatest weakness?“, but are they right? Here’s a few opinions from Reddit users.

Some serious responses:

  • Assume that the point of the question is to indicate how well you know yourself and whether you’re mindful enough to manage your weaknesses. Pick a weakness that isn’t a trivial cop-out and make sure you’ve prepared a mitigation strategy, e.g. I tend to X, but I’ve found if I A, B and C, it’s all good.
  • Being funny in a job interview is great, but you have to actually answer or you look like you avoid tough problems. So make your joke, then actually answer the question. I always list a weakness I have overcome first: e.g. “I used to be disorganised and miss deadlines from time to time, but now I make and check a daily to-do list and haven’t missed a deadline since”. Then go for gold and follow up with a current weakness.
  • “Public speaking” is a pretty decent answer, since the interviewer will probably be able to relate.
  • The trick is to say a problem, but then explain why it’s not an issue. For instance, say you tend to get too focussed on one task, so you don’t get around to the rest when you should, but you get around this by setting yourself deadlines to work to. You can probably phrase that a lot better, but that’s the general idea.

Below are some you probably shouldn’t use, but are funny nonetheless:

  • “I refuse to get involved in office politics, which tends to get misconstrued as aloofness.”
  • “I lie at interviews.”
  • Me: I’d say my biggest weakness is distinguishing between fact and fiction, reality and fantasy. Interviewer: And your biggest strength? Me: I’m Batman.
  • I stare off in the distance and whisper “Kryptonite” while squinting my eyes.
  • Print a business card that says “Sometimes my overpreparedness comes across as arrogance.” Hand it to the interviewer when asked.
  • Anticipate the question and immediately shout “INTERRUPTING PEOPLE!” before they finish.

Some great advice from one commenter:

I think the point about the weakness question is to stand out. In an interview they will always remember stories or different answers, just giving a two sentence answer is very forgettable, which is the worst thing you can do in an interview. Whilst they ask something specific it gives you the opportunity to show off a lot of other characteristics.

1: Can you not just give the obvious answers everyone else gives?

2: Are you aware of your own strengths and weaknesses? (this is a very important skill and why they want a real answer, they don’t want to hire someone who thinks he’s brilliant at pitching to clients and always try’s to do it when he sucks at it)

3: Are you coachable? (they want someone who will listen to feedback and work hard to change any weaknesses – someone who is willing and able to improve themselves)

4: Are you aware of what the job entails? (i.e if you’re applying for a sales job don’t tell them you are terrible at negotiating – in fact never tell them that anyway, but you get the point)

You should approach all interview questions as an opportunity to tell the interviewer as many positive things about yourself as possible (whilst keeping it relevant). Stick to stories wherever possible and try to mention achievements or events that happened as much as you can.

greatest weakness

Source: Reddit