Another Way to Answer the Weakness Question

Posted by The Editors on November 8, 2011
Another Way to Answer the Weakness Question

In a recent CNN interview, Christa Foley, the head hiring manager at Zappos, says her favorite question to ask potential employees in an interview is, “What is the biggest misperception people typically have about you?” 

This question got me thinking about one of our most-read articles: Defining Your Strengths and Weaknesses. By being honest with yourself and assessing what misunderstandings your colleagues have about you, you may be able to uncover areas where you could improve—AKA your weaknesses.

For instance, you could think your colleagues perceive you as procrastinating and missing deadlines, even though the real reason that you’re missing deadlines is because you’re too swamped multitasking with other work. So, a way to spin this to fulfill the “What is your greatest weakness?” question is to say something like, “One of my weaknesses is being able to prioritize projects with a deadline before my other work, since I want to spread my attention equally over all projects.” Then you should explain what you’re doing to remedy the situation. “I’ve started creating prioritized lists with the deadlines written down, so I can see what really needs my attention when. Then I focus 100 percent of my attention on these prioritized items.”

It’s important to step back and look at yourself objectively and honestly in interviews. As Foley says, it gets candidates to talk “about themselves in unscripted ways, so that we can see if the cultural fit is there.” By brainstorming now, you’ll be prepared when you’re put on the spot and need to identify that all-too-common question.

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