Taking on the “Greatest Weakness” Question (Perspective #3)

This week, I started a little series here on The Job Quest that analyzed the oft-asked question: “What is your greatest weakness?”

I’ve been fortunate to have a great group of HR pros give their opinions about the question and lend their expertise to help job seekers answer it well. Jonathan Krass kicked things off on Monday, Bob Tarver weighed in with his thoughts yesterday, and today we have Shennee Rutt sharing her point of view!

The question of greatest weakness is asked of job candidates because the hiring manager is looking to identify a vulnerability. No one is perfect, so the ideal response I would look for is one that shows some honesty.

I would speak to the fact that whatever your weakness is, you have a solution in place on how you overcame the challenge. For example, I was excluded from consideration for an HR-related opportunity because there was a bilingual requirement that I didn’t meet. My solution was to learn Spanish and then, I would re-apply for opportunities. If your weakness is that you don’t delegate tasks well, then you need to identify how you will overcome that, to engage and become a better team player. Honestly identifying a true weakness and then effectively explaining how you executed a solution says a lot about your problem-solving abilities.

But when it comes down to who does well with this question and who doesn’t, I truly think confidence is key here. You need to sell yourself as the preferred candidate! Know your strengths, but be prepared to talk about some weaknesses. Like I said, no one is perfect.

That being said, I am not a fan of this question. At all. I would much rather spend time learning about the candidate, and what they like and dislike the most about their past jobs and WHY. In my opinion, the WHY is much more important and reveals more meaningful information about a candidate than getting into the topic of weaknesses.

Shennee RuttShennee Rutt has a broad Retail Management/Human Resources background. Her experiences have included being a recruiter, a sourcer, and an employment representative. She is currently consulting and is in the process of launching a virtual assistant business. Shennee can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn, and her blog.

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