Blog powered by Typepad

« More on starting your first job... | Main | More on How NOT to Respond to Rejection »

July 18, 2008


Marcia Robinson - BullsEyeResumes

Some interviews are truly painful aren't they? I met a candidate last year who said he liked to plan his work a month at a time and his weakness was that he would go ballistic if anyone asked him to change things around after he had set his schedule.

The position was to manage a residential hall on a college campus with 300 students. Going ballistic with changes would not have worked.

I really enjoy your blog.


Marcia Robinson - BullsEyeResumes

I could not find an email for you, but would love you to Blogroll our site at

We have added you as a favorite for our readers.


Rachel Robbins

I find that honesty is the biggest issue. They often come in with a setup answer that's bullshit. Do you think we can't tell you're lying?

If I hear one more person say "I'm too detail oriented" or "I can't leave anything unfinished" I'll scream.


Hoo, the "weaknesses" question.

Numero Uno: EVERY job applicant needs to be ready to answer this question.

Numero Duo: Can't employers think of another question? If for no other reason that we're all expecting it anyway? The variations this post suggests would be a TERRIFIC start!!



I must say, I've prepped for this question for all of my interviews, (even though I dislike it very much). The job I landed, scratch that, the job I *accepted* didn't ask that question. My boss is focused on utilizing people's strengths. When a question came up in my interview--I realized and mentioned it seemed like a positive spin on the "what is your greatest weakness" question. As I identified it as such, I was direct, honest, and by restating it in those terms I was able to have a great conversation with my future boss. I was able to learn alot about my now current employer's work culture, which happens to be a great fit for me, and has already led to a lot of personal and professional growth. This post is great in that it explains WHY this question is asked, and WHY we need to respond well (honest, direct, relevant, build that relationship!) Great post!


Thanks all for the comments!

Marcia - I will e-mail you directly.

Rachel - I agree - the "I'm too detail oriented" answer is one of my least favorites!

MMG - I am so glad your new job is working out and you feel like you are growing professional and personally - now THAT is encouraging! ;-)

~ Career Encourager

Kelly O

Question - for those of us who truly are perfectionists and tend to get hung up in the detail, how would you suggest answering that question? It really is my biggest area of weakness although I've put considerable work (and a little therapy) into letting go of that perfectionism.

Kelly –

Thanks for your question – I appreciate your honesty. The challenge with discussing perfectionist tendencies as a “weakness” is two-fold. On one hand, you may come across as is you are trying to pitch a strength as a weakness. If the interviewer reads you that way, she may think you’re trying to fake your way through the question and it shuts down dialogue. On the other hand, if you try to insist that you really have taken perfectionism to the extreme that it is a weakness, the interviewer may be concerned that you are high-anxiety, or need to be in control all of the time. Neither of those personality traits works well in most workplaces.

Both of these challenges have the unfortunate result of coming across as “me-focused”, which is not a good thing in an interview. The interview – whether we like it or not – is an “other-focused” conversation – it’s all about what the employer needs and wants in the open position, and how you as a candidate are best suited to deliver on it.

All of that said, one approach to help you prep for the weakness question and keep the focus on the job at hand would be to take the job description, read it carefully and ask yourself the following questions:
- Which of these tasks would require that I get some training in order to be able to do it well?
- Which of these tasks would I really prefer to delegate if I could?
- Are there any terms/phrases in this job description that I don’t understand?

By thinking through questions like this, you should be able to come up with a reasonable answer to the weakness question that is tailored specifically to the job you are interviewing for.

Good luck!
Career Encourager

Beth Robinson

Well, Rachel, you wouldn't have to scream with me. Someday when I have to interview again my answer is the opposite - I have a tendency to get things 97% done. Capturing that last little niggling thing so that it doesn't haunt me later is my problem. Believe me, there are some jobs that I won't bother applying for because there are places where this is an extremely inappropriate problem.


I am a Public Relations executive and I am honest about my need to have someone edit my work. In my business, typos and grammatical errors are an instant and sometimes fatal liability. I am a strong writer, great strategic planner and have many pr plans that I have designed and executed successfully. However, I am the first to admit that I always want someone to edit my press releases.

I have even paid professional editors out of my own pocket when my employers did not have the budget or I would trade colleagues my expertise for their keen editing eyes.

I see no problem in having a weakness - - we fail only when we do not find a successful solution to the problem.


My last interviewer asked me what was lacking on my last performance review. I (honestly) told him I had an exceeds expectation review with no major areas for improvement yet was made to feel as if I didn't give an adequate answer. I haven't heard any variations on the "negative traits" question on an interview in years.

job search

Applicable advice. Although it's still somehow discouraging whn you're asked this question.

Blast free Resume Post

Hi............Your blog posting is very good and theme base for which it is liking to all student who are very careful to their carrier.Thanks

Job Description

The resolve of a SAP FICO doc is to configure SAP, canvass reliable issues and modify into SAP functionality. Coordination and informatory skills are obligatory for teamwork. A SAP FICO doctor should know change many than the masses responsibilities. He should be competent to execute an object-oriented reasoning, pattern and meliorate specifications, work explore on abstract problems and compel software.

coach handbags

There is no doubt that happiness is the most precious thing in the world. Without it, life will be empty and meaningless. happiness consists in contentment. A man who is dissatisfied with his present condition is always in distress.

Generic Viagra

In my experience looking for jobs, I can say that this was one of the most uncomfortable questions that I had to face. With the experience, you learn that you just have to act normal and be honest.

discount timberland boots

the music you listen to all influence the way you think and feel about yourself and the world around you.

The comments to this entry are closed.