What is Your Greatest Weakness? (Powerful Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

Let’s pretend you’re in an interview and as far as you can tell, it’s going great. You’ve got your resume up to snuff, your handshake was firm, you’ve nailed every question they’ve thrown at you with laser like precision…and now it’s the wrap up segment. The part of the interview where the questions become less “structured” and start drifting into “casual” and “esoteric.”

You’re feeling good. Really good.

In fact, you’re letting your mind wander out to the parking lot…trying to figure out how the new car you’re going to buy with your new job paycheck is going to look parked out there with all the other fancy cars.

And then they drop a bomb on you: So, tell me, what is your greatest weakness?

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Instantly your dream car disappears in a puff of panicked smoke and you look at the hiring manager with wide eyes.

You shuffle through everything in your brain, trying to figure out how to answer this question.

Is it stepping on a Lego with bare feet? Maybe it’s a fresh chocolate cheesecake in the fridge? Or is it Kryptonite?

No, wait, that’s Superman…and last you checked, you’re not Superman. At least, not that you’d admit publicly (well played, secret identity…well played.)

Aargh, why do hiring managers ask these questions???

Is answering this seemingly unrelated-to-the-job-I-am-applying-for question really necessary?

Why Do Hiring Managers Ask This Question?

Believe it or not, this question, which might seem on the surface to be more than a little ridiculous, actually serves a very important function…

Your hiring manager isn’t looking to see what you answer…rather how you answer it.

…and knowing THAT is YOUR secret to turning this seemingly insignificant question into another opportunity to really showcase yourself as the perfect candidate for the job.

Of course, the only way to know truly how to answer this question is to figure out why it’s even being asked in the first place.

When an interviewer asks you this question, they’re trying to see how well you respond to a question that’s intentionally meant to throw you off your game.

The number one job of the hiring manager is to find the perfect candidate for the job and that means weeding out anyone who might not be the right fit.

They want to see how you react to a question meant to throw you off your carefully memorized path as well as gauge just how good you are at being self-critical and aware.

Like we said above, this question isn’t about what you say..but what you’re saying beyond what you’re saying.onion-question

Confused?

Good. It’s supposed to be confusing…because this question is an ONION question.

What’s an onion question?

I’m so glad you asked! An onion question is a question with multiple layers…just like, well…an onion! And like an onion…it can make you cry, but only if you tackle it unprepared…

So put on your safety glasses…it’s time to start peeling away layers!

First off, this isn’t a simple question you can rattle off a quick answer to or parrot back some easy to memorize statistics or facts and move on from.

It’s a question meant to make you think…and think hard.

It also requires you to delve deep into your own inner psyche and do some serious soul searching, which if you’re trying to do all this in an interview with no prep can be pretty dang terrifying and lead to some rather uncomfortable moments (hence the crying aspect of the onion question!)

But before we get started you should download our free  Greatest Weakness Cheat Sheet!

This handy (and FREE!!) pdf contains word-for-word sample answers to this tricky question that you can use in your next interview! Click Here To Get The Greatest Weakness Cheat Sheet!

5 Most Common “What Is Your Greatest Weakness” Mistakes

Just like cutting an onion, there’s a right way to answer this question and there are lots and lots of wrong ways to answer this question.

Let’s start out with the top five.

1) Denial

“Weakness? What is this word, weakness? I am strong, like bull. (Thumps chest…crushes coffee cup on forehead. Flexes for emphasis.)”

Oh no…no…no. Denial is so much more than just a river in Egypt, and if you resort to false bravado and posturing in your interview by telling the interviewer that you have no weaknesses…it could also mean the end of your opportunities with the company.

An answer like this (which is essentially a non-answer) is a sure fire way to get a firm “Thanks, but no thanks” from the hiring manager.

Nobody is so perfect as to not hav