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

Comments 59 Comments   Views 1740 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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Neetu 22-03-2010  
gr8.very wel said!
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Sandeep 18-03-2010  
weakness is the major part of strength if you havn`t weakness then you never find your strength .......weaknesses are identifiable you improve and enjoy successfulness...
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Alok 17-01-2010  
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses but as a child,it`s hard to deal with your weaknesses.It`s not until you grow up and realize that you have to use your strengths to overcome your weaknesses.:)
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Ashutosh 14-01-2010  
yaa its good but weakness should b looking indirectly 2 ur strength.
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Swati 27-12-2009  
nice suggestion
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Minal 22-11-2009  
I think every interviewer must be knowing when we make fake answers,so what i think is we should accept the weaknesses as we have,we can find it out from our friends,family members etc.with whom we are constantly in touch.and then can say that I am working upon them...
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Latha 16-11-2009  
All of us have both strengths and weaknesses – we need to identify and understand, how to properly communicate them to others as per the situation. Thanks for the sharing.
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Kamlakar 13-11-2009  
It is a subjective term...
There are many answers. WEKNESS can be an aspect of my nature which is NOT SUTITABLE for a particular task or situation but on the other side, the same may be extremely useful in some other task or situation!
e.g. If I am very sensitive person:
As Weakness: I may build a lot of stress on my mind, which may affect my efficiency.
As Strength: I may build avery strong team by understanding their problems and addressing them on priority, result:Improved Performance!
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Avishka 12-11-2009  
Weaknesses are inevitably a part of the human nature....afterall nobodys perfect...however there is always a way where in one can work on their negative aspects and their weak points and convert them into one of their biggest strenghts...like an impatient person can certainly work towards getting over this habit of being impatient and become a man who has good tolerance levels...etc.....nothing is impossible...its all in the mind.....

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