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HR News » What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
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What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

Comments 59 Comments   Views 1741 Views     About 20-04-2009

Have you ever received that question in an interview? First, let me apologize. Most of us in HR who ask this question don’t even know what we’re asking, why we’re asking or what we’re supposed to get out of this question. Furthermore, candidates are usually so poorly prepared for this question that it usually defeats the purpose of asking it in the first place.

I know all of the cool people in HR think the question is bogus. They have a point but there are thousands of bogus questions getting asked daily that we never address. If you aren’t preparing yourself for this stupid question, than you aren’t preparing yourself for the other stupid questions that will come your way. It is easily one of the more common questions still asked today.

Here’s what I’ve figured out from asking this question (or being in interviews where this question is asked): If you answered the question quickly, you are either well rehearsed or you are extremely self-aware. If you can’t answer the question quickly or you give me some bullshit response, you’re either ill-prepared, not at all self-aware or a liar. Well, you’re probably all liars when it comes to this question which is why I don’t ask the question much.

Even if you don’t choose to give me a straight answer on this question, your glaring deficiencies should be on the top of your mind. No matter how good you become at anything, your weaknesses will hold you back. If you are the best salesperson in the company yet you neglect your spouse, it will hold you back. If you are the best number cruncher in the government but you can’t speak to other people without stuttering, it will hold you back. If you are a great speaker but you can’t ever execute a plan, it will hold you back.

When important people in your organization are talking about you, they are using “but” statements. “He’s a great welder but he can’t get along with people.” “She’s a great CEO but she is a liability with the press.” Those “but” statements point to your perceived weakness.

My weaknesses are pretty simple ones:

Impatient - If you tell me I can’t do something now, I either figure out a way around you or I lose interest in it completely. Getting married has helped this immensely but I am sure my wife would say it still needs improvement.
Lacking detail orientation - Terrible weakness for a HR person in the current legal climate right? Absolutely. At my first job, I said I was good on detail orientation and simply made it happen. Yes, I have to work twice as hard on it but I can make the big picture stuff happen more quickly to make up for it.
Laid back - I couldn’t ever say this in an interview (because it would sound like BS) but my laid back attitude has definitely impacted my career negatively. Being approachable helps in HR but it is a pain when it is time to lay down the law and people don’t understand why the attitude has disappeared.

What I can say is that working on all three of these has made me not only a better employee but a better person. Which, you know, sounds corny.

Some people have advocated just focusing on your strengths and letting them compensate for your weaknesses. Unless you are wildly successful (like top 0.01%), focusing on your strengths to compensate for your weaknesses isn’t going to get you anywhere. Maintain (or slowly build your strengths) and focus your energy on your deficiencies instead.

What’s your greatest weakness and what are you doing to improve it?

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Chandrikesh 08-08-2012  
Good article ...
Sravan Kumar
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Sravan Kumar 07-07-2012  
this is very good
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Sachin 15-06-2012  
a good answer to these kind of question is i am workaholic person i don`t know when to stop.
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Mr.Chanakya 05-02-2012  
My Greatest Weakness is -I am STILL in this Country and My Sentiments to my Motherland.
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Mr.Chanakya 18-01-2012  
Please ask the same question as your Answer to him then you will get the real Answer okay. There is No weakness for a person ? It is for the Beholder`s View may be / assumption / situation wise etc etc...for a debate we can Portrait as a Weakness of a Person okay. not for whole ok. For example -In a electrical switch Board plug point has TWO-HOLE ,1-Negative 2-Positive , if we put a Tester inside the Positive Tester Light glow and indicator & it desn`t mean without negative BULB WILL GLOW
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Bhagwan 02-08-2011  
very good article indeed.
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Venugopal 03-06-2011  
weakness is the area which decides the effectiveness of role in particular organization.It varies from role to role that you play
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Rimit 01-06-2011  
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Chaitanya 07-01-2011  
Weakness would also benefits organization sometimes..I`ve a weakness that If I thought of doing something, until I completes it I wont get up from my seat. sometimes I`ll forget to have my lunch..what do you say about this..??
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Neil 27-10-2010  
My weakness is instantly wanting to help other people deal with their weaknesses.

e.g. From above

Impatient - Call it enthusiastic problem solver.
Lacking detail orientation - Call it Strong Strategic skills.
Laid back - This is a weakness, there is a difference between being a people person and wanting to be friends with everyone. The description sounds like the latter. Get professional help to develop Gravitas, this will allow both connection and authority.

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