Weakness Interview Question
I recently heard a candidate tell a great story about a time when he was asked the Weakness Interview Question. When asked “What is your weakness?” he replied “Kryptonite!!” BOOYAHHH! I love that answer. Yes, he did get the job and started the next day.
This answer epitomizes what I want to hear from this question if you expect to get the job. It isn’t so much the actual answer, but the attitude behind it. Confidence without being arrogant.
Make no mistake, the Weakness Interview Question is a “trick” question. This first interview might as well be your first date. Even if it is your 4th interview, if you hear this question from someone it is probably the equivalent of your “first date”, maybe the second with that particular interviewer. It really doesn’t matter at this point in the relationship/interview process. Keep the skeletons in the closet. I am not ready for your dirty laundry. I will never be ready for your dirty laundry and I work in HR.
Remember, like a first date, as much as you and your date WANT things to work out, both of us are really trying to figure out “what is wrong with this potential ex?” so I can get over them quickly and move on. (Or is that just me?). Even if you have a great first date and see white gowns and mother-in-laws in your future, your radar is still up on the second date. The statement “This date is too good to be true” isn’t one of hope, it is one of doubt. “There has got to be something wrong with this date”.
Someone said, “love is seeing an imperfect person perfectly”. Well, this isn’t love honey, this is a J.O.B. Corporate America usually implies a paycheck. I am still trying to figure out what my wife sees in me, but if she were paying me to hang out with me, she would expect a whole lot more. DOH!!!
I wrote a guest blog here for a bit more, Weakness Interview Question, that has some specific examples. But the bottom-line is that there is always a way to turn a negative into a positive. Poker players win big pots at the poker table all the time with a Chinese boat for a hand.
If I am asked about my “weakness”, a typical answer could be something like the following and it would be 100% accurate. (Just ask our very patient Sr. Director of Social Media that I sit next to and bug on a regular basis).
“I really suck at social media. I don’t understand Foursquare, I am not very active on Facebook or Twitter. . .I know that I am in the people business and I should get involved, but I really just don’t have the time or the interest.”
Interview Over. We are done here. The show is over, nothing to see here but a train wreck. Let me give you my card. Side A: Go Directly to Jail. Side B: Do not pass go, Do not collect 200.00. Do not call me and I will not be calling you.
As you are droning on and on about how you don’t know Excel, get frustrated with people who aren’t smart or don’t have patience, all I can think about is how much laundry I have to do this weekend and will I be able to go fishing with the fellas. Yes, my eyes just rolled in disbelief and frustration. “I am trapped in this interview. What did I see on this candidate’s resume? How do I end this interview without being obvious?” Does this sound like a first date???
Here is a way I WOULD answer the question, and this is ALSO 100% true:
“What is my weakness? Let me think about this for a minute. My weakness is that I don’t think I am as strong in Social Media as I can be. I know that it is really important for anyone in HR for all kinds of reasons. I will say that I have really taken an interest in Social Media in the last year and feel like I have a pretty good grasp of things. I use Facebook now to post jobs. I use LinkedIn as a recruiting tool and have recently saved the company 1000’s of dollars in recruiting fees. I even started a blog where I try to help people get a job and dive into Google Analytics. I recently saw through Google Analytics that a lot of folks were reading the blog on their phone so I installed a widget that gave the ability to view with a condensed phone view. I still have a way to go. I never did get into Foursquare, but I did leverage my social graph and tried out a few Zynga games. Right now, I am reading a book called Find a Job through Social Networking”.
I have just given my weakness but I have also given an explanation on how I DID SOMETHING THE F**K ABOUT IT. The glass is half full of hope, not despair. This candidate isn’t half dead, he is half alive! If you are going to hire someone, do you want to hire someone who has a weakness and just sits on their duff or do you want to hang out with someone who will get their fat ass into the gym and make an effort?
The economy changes and employees are asked to adopt, train, and change as the company changes. New skills are needed all the time and doing nothing about a weakness is showing you probably won’t take the initiative to adapt. This is why the Weakness Interview Question is a trick question.
Answer number 2 is the same as answer number 1 but with a positive spin. Just because you are being asked for a weakness, doesn’t mean you have to give one. When you are asked your weight, do you give the real answer? Everyone knows that the TV ads 10 pounds. If you are a little heavy, do you wear stripes? Do you wear tight clothing? Same package, different wrapping. Everyone loves a gift that comes in nice wrapping with a Red Bow vs. just having the gift being forked over in the bag of it was purchased in.
Don’t fall for the weakness question. It is a trap and the Cake is a Lie. Before you start your job hunt know two things. You will be asked this question and you can get Nasty about it. Think of a few examples that you can use where you have made a conscious effort to improve a weakness and own this.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.
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