Companies utilize a variety of methods to determine the strength of character in a candidate for hire. A common question being asked is: “What is your greatest weakness?”
This question can force the candidate to appear weak and uneasy about the question which reflects upon their ability to handle a pressure situation. Therefore, the average candidate will prepare a canned answer ahead of time so that they are not caught off guard.
There are several schools of thought on how to handle the question. One method is to answer with a “noble weakness” such as, “I tend to work long hours on the job.” Another method is to follow the weakness with a positive success story to change the course of the discussion. Each method has its merits.
However, if you are concerned about appearing too phony or controlling and value a productive interchange with the interviewer, an answer can be given that shows honesty and a desire for a good fit with the organization.
The interview should be a two-way street whereas the company is “on trial” as much as the candidate. If the company values honesty and integrity as a key component for a new hire, then you will look for opportunities to display that in the interview. This is a perfect place to demonstrate those attributes.
If I were asked that question, I could honestly say that I am not sure what my greatest weakness is. However, I have not served all my bosses to their satisfaction, and have been removed from positions due to performance. Each one was for a different reason. One was for utilizing a flex-force to obviate the need for overtime. My boss did not like the concept. It was too progressive for his style of management. He considered my management style too soft.
Being truthful and transparent will open the door to let the interviewer ask more questions about the situation. If it uncovers some embarrassing situations, then let the cards fall where they may. You are the product of your own experiences and knowhow. The real you will come forth when you get on the job and become relaxed around your surroundings. They should not be surprised about your behavior and conduct.
At the same time, it is not necessary to venture into your personal life, unless it could affect your ability to perform on the job.
In working with job seekers with a criminal record, I encourage them to look for an opportunity to reveal that they have a record during the interview. The reason is the company will find that out during a background check before they are hired. If it has already been revealed and discussed during the interview, then it will not be a cause to reject the candidate for failure to be open and honest.
Neither the company nor the job seeker wants surprises when starting a new job. So, both parties owe it to the process to answer all questions with honesty and transparency.
Be prepared for the question. And build into the response things that show your willingness to be open and above-board with your answers.
In today’s climate of shading the truth for personal gain, you will stand out like a breath of fresh air when you are willing to be who you really are, the real thing.