Dear Lola*Cat –
I always feel like I’m getting tripped up when an interviewer asks me what my biggest weakness is. What do you think is the best way to answer; be honest, sugar coat my answer, or try to work around it?
Thanks for your help!
~ Tripped Up
Dear Tripped Up,
It’s natural to want to hide our weaknesses. I always try to show I am not interested in the dry food in my deluxe, top of the line automated feeding dispenser, but once the room is clear I will do everything I can to tear that sucker open and gorge myself on every last bite.
But, once again, you human beings need to be little more tactful. I’ll spell it all out in a list of do’s and don’ts since people like that sort of thing.
1) Don’t Ignore or Obfuscate (It’s a word look it up.)
You definitely do not want to ignore the question or try work around it. Potential employers are looking for someone who can articulate their thoughts and communicate clearly, not skirt an issue.
2) Don’t Pretend To Be Perfect
Not coming up with a weakness means the interviewer is likely to think you are disingenuous (e.g. your pants are on fire).
3) Don’t Be A Smarty Pants
Saying that answering questions like “what is your biggest weakness” is your biggest weakness might get you a job as a faux cat writing an advice column but it sure as heck won’t land you a job in the real world.
4) Tell the Truth
Your answer should be truthful but not SO truthful that it eliminates you from the hiring pool. You don’t want to talk about personal weaknesses. Not being able to get out of bed in the morning half an hour after you were scheduled to be at your desk is one example.
5) Be Articulate
We all try to improve ourselves (some more than others), and working on your weaknesses is an admirable trait. The weakness you talk about in the interview should be something that you recognize in yourself and are working on. Give examples of how you pay attention to this and how you always strive to improve.
6) Pick One
You also don’t want to give them the entire list of every weakness you have ever had. Be direct and to the point. You never want your weaknesses to outnumber your strengths.
Having a clear understanding of your super powers as well as areas of improvement gives your potential employer a snap shot of who you are and what you can bring to the table as of day one. Being prepared to answer this type of question will calm your nerves and give you job-winning confidence.
This question was hard. I’m hungry now. Where is my kibble?
Do you have a job seeking or office etiquette question for Lola*Cat? Send her an email: DearLolaCat@alanjblair.com