What are good answers to the ‘greatest weakness’ interview question?

Should your hiring manager ask about a job applicant's greatest weakness? And if so, what answers should you expect?

Should your hiring manager ask about a job applicant's greatest weakness? And if so, what answers should you expect?

Continuing our look at classic job interview situations, today we will address one that has a long history of being misunderstood: "What is your greatest weakness?" Like many overused questions, this one has been in the popular consciousness for so long that applicants have evolved a standard way of answering it by citing good traits about themselves in a falsely modest way.

Despite all of the writing on this particular question, it doesn't seem to be going away, and companies need to be aware of both how they ask it and what the response is. In 2013, Alison Green advised applicants to be genuine when answering this question and come with a list of answers prepared. If a person uses specific examples and partnering them with ways that they hope to improve their behavior, the response is likely to be more effective and illuminating.

On the other hand, there are some who believe that companies shouldn't ask this question at all. In a blog post from 2012, Ash Moran of PatchSpace said that it doesn't accurately measure whether a person would make a good employee.

"To ask what an individual's greatest weakness is during an interview to decide whether they should join an organization is nonsense," he wrote. "The candidate will have many strengths and weaknesses, but the only ones that matter are the ones that become relevant once he is embedded as an employee in his new team."

It's possible that your business has used this question for years and wants to revise the standard hiring questions. Whether this is the case or a candidate gives an answer to a question that needs to be specially marked and recorded, HR process engineering is potentially useful for making the job interview more efficient.