What Does the “Greatest Weakness” Question Really Tell You?
The meaning behind the candidate's answer to this common interview question. To find out how to read between the lines of interview responses, continue through to this article.
One of the most popular questions to ask job candidates at an interview is the greatest weakness question. There are a few variations, such as:
· What is your biggest weakness?
· What is your fatal flaw?
· What do you need to work on?
But the basic idea is that you are asking potential employees to tell you something bad about themselves. It’s one of the classic interview questions that is designed to make people think on the fly and to discover more about the candidate.
What Makes a Bad Answer?
The worst way a candidate can answer is to provide you with a real weakness. Great employees are expected to have confidence in their abilities and to think on their feet. If nothing else, a real flaw that may affect their ability to do their job also shows they do not know how to interview, because working professionals know that this question isn’t there to invite applicants to share actual bad things about their candidacy.
What Makes a Not Great Answer?
What’s important, though, is that you also don’t receive a canned answer that shows no ability to think with any originality. The best example is the “perfectionist” answer. Candidates that claim that they’re a perfectionist are simply reciting what they think the interviewer wants to hear. They’re not putting any thought into the answer, and they’re not showing the interviewer that they are any different from any other candidate that gives the perfectionist answer.
What Makes a Great Answer?
Great answers show a combination of the two – they give a real answer, but they give an answer that also isn’t much of a flaw. For example “I’ve been known to leave my desk disorganized.” A disorganized desk is a real flaw, but it’s not much of a flaw – certainly not one that would prevent them from doing their job, unless their job is “Senior Desk Organizer.” This shows that the candidate cared enough to put original thought into their answer, and it shows a degree of preparation and/or quick thinking you want from a potential employee.
Also, a great candidate knows that they need to follow up that answer with a qualifier, such as “I’m working on making sure my desk is more organized.” This shows that they are also self-aware, and are committed to improvement.
Tricks and Tips for Interview Questions During Recruitment
The greatest weakness question is yet another example of why it’s important to understand how to read responses for more than just the answer. Despite how long the question has been around, it’s still a great question to ask during interviews and one that can help you find the best candidate for the job.
To contact Saxon for more ideas on conducting successful interviews, go to www.RecruitShop.com.au
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Saxon is MBA qualified and has 12 years experience in sales, marketing and recruitment in Australia. He is now the Managing Director of an online recruitment agency, with a focus on simple solutions to common recruitment problems.