9/4/14

Mod Notes (Andy): this was originally posted on 9/26/12

Interviewer: "So... what's your biggest weakness?"

To be honest, I think the biggest weakness question is one of the most bullshit questions you can get during an interview. But people keep asking it, so you've got to have a strategy. There are some shops/industries where the best strategy is truth. In most banking/PE interviews, not so much.

My favorite way to answer the biggest weakness question is to imagine the interviewer at their job and think about what they would relate to most strongly. Then I build an answer starting with, "I get impatient/frustrated when...."

You want to pick a problem that is endemic to the industry and essentially unsolvable. One of those things people just have to live with.

You want them to think, "Yeah, that frustrates me all the time too." It sends the signal that you're at least aware of the challenges, which puts you ahead of many candidates.

So say I'm talking to a VP. VPs spend their lives as the axis between senior bankers and analysts/associates. If they ask what my biggest weakness is, I might say, "I get a little impatient when things take longer than I think they should. That would be fine, except it turns out the timeline I have in my mind for something is usually pretty optimistic. This is something I'm aware of and working on. So ideally in the future all my expectations would be realistic and I would do a good job of communicating them to the senior guys so there are no surprises."

Say I'm talking to an associate. Then it might be: "I get a little impatient when I need to teach people who are new to the game. Coaching's important, and in order to build a strong team I know we need to get people up the curve quickly. In the past I've occasionally let coaching slide in order to hit a tight deadline, but in the future I know I need to make time to teach people how to do something rather than churn it out quickly myself."

Say I'm talking to an analyst. "I get a little frustrated sometimes when managing multiple projects, each with separate deadlines, work flows, models, decks, and teams. Some people seem to be able to do it all in their head, but me, I've found I need a pretty strict system to keep everything on track. Let me tell you how I do it...."

Of course, this is what I say to myself in my head: "My biggest weakness is that I get really fucking impatient when fielding bullshit questions. Like this one. Next."

What's the best/worst way you guys have answered this question? SBs for the best story.

Comments (193)

Best Response
9/26/12

I usually go with:

"Where do I start, really? I'm a 24 year old analyst with 6 months of banking experience because I was too lazy/unmotivated to figure out the whole finance recruiting thing while still in undergrad. My firm hasn't had much (any) deal flow since I joined the firm, so my experience with real world modeling and execution is relatively non existent. I spend a ton of my work day on WSO/Dealbreaker/ESPN/You name it and can be a cranky in the morning. Oh and I consider Guinness to be one of the major food groups and have an issue with nasty hangovers. What was the question again?"

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."

9/26/12

David: So, let me ask you a question right off the bat. What do you think are your greatest strengths as a manager?
Michael: Why don't I tell you what my greatest weaknesses are? I work too hard. I care too much. And sometimes I can be too invested in my job.
David: Okay. And your strengths?
Michael: Well, my weaknesses are actually... strengths.
David: Oh. Yes. Very good.
Michael: Thank you.

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

PM me if you're traveling to Buenos Aires in 2016 (I live here) :-)

9/26/12

personally, i feel "fustrated" is a bad word to use.

"After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

In reply to oreos
9/26/12
Oreos:

personally, i feel "fustrated" is a bad word to use.

I have to agree with you there. To me that word makes it seem like you're letting whatever problem get to you

9/26/12

Not quite on topic with your interview question, but I once interviewed at a valuation firm when I got out of the military and they asked a shitload of technical questions I didn't get and hadn't ever studied. This was back when "Friends" was still on TV or had been recently cancelled, and at one point in the interview, I told my interviewer I felt like Joey Triviani trying to answer the questions,

No idea why I said that, but the female director sitting across from me bore a freaking hole in my soul with the look she gave me. So that didn't go too well.

9/26/12
9/26/12

I thought weakness is supposed to be a "skill-related" thing? Being frustrated is simply your feelings, not how capable you are at doing something.

e.g. Being frustrated at coaching new people is your feeling; unable to coach new people because I lack communication skills is a weakness. Obviously, I'm not gonna say I lack communication skills in an actual interview. Just an example.

9/26/12

I'm a bit older than some of the junior mist makers on this board so I've gone through the recruiting process (nightmare) at a number of firms (IB/PE/other institutional investors) and while I think some of OP's examples are good, they're generally BS and most experienced interviewers will recognize that. Obviously you don't want to say "I'm not detail oriented" or "I'm socially awkward" since analysts have to be attentive and no one wants to work 90+ hours with a weirdo.

I've fielded this question by saying an analysis as part of my MBA program evaluated students on a number of different personality traits and I ranked at the extreme low end for allocentrism (yes, it's good to throw around MBA jargon at any chance). In other words, I tend to think others are motivated by the same things I am - profit, nice risk-adjusted return, etc - and I have to work extra hard at understanding others' motivations. I try to address this by over-communicating, blah blah, and although I sometimes struggle with it, it's a weakness that I'm aware of, blah blah.

Kid you not, most interviewers eat that sh*t up.

9/26/12

I usually say that I have a hard time telling people what they are doing is wrong, so I usually just fix it myself, but it shouldn't be much of a problem in banking because there are so many intelligent people.

Or you could say...

I'm too good looking, and all the females in the office get distracted, so they can't focus on the task at hand. In other words, HR doesn't call people back as soon as they should.

In reply to oreos
9/26/12
Oreos:

personally, i feel "fustrated" is a bad word to use.

The point of this question is that you have to say something negative about yourself. It can be a weak negative, but it must be negative.

Let's be MECE about this. The weakness will be either internal or external/behavioral. Choosing a behavioral weakness shows a lack of self-control. People who can't control their behavior aren't even ready yet to start working on internal processes. So I advise you to go with internal.

If you go with internal, it's going to be either cognitive (how your brain works, how you perceive) or emotional (how you feel). It's very hard to fix a cognitive weakness. (You can't cure stupidity.) Also, banking/PE have strong biases against people with cognitive weaknesses. So I advise you to go with emotional.

Within the realm of possible emotional weaknesses, only a few are banker-friendly. You need something endemic, mild, and productive. Frustration and impatience fit the bill.

Everyone in banking/PE is dealing with frustrations every day. (Anyone below VP who says otherwise is lying.) It's something everyone can relate to. So it's not off the wall to say that you've felt it in the past and that you're working on the perfect approach/response.

Perhaps you noticed that each example outlines the mitigation approach as well as the weakness? You would obviously never just say that your weakness is that you get frustrated, full stop.

You'd say, "I sometimes get a little frustrated when I face X difficult situation, and what I do to manage/mitigate that situation is Y." What you're showing there is that you have experience managing the tensions that arise during tough situations in banking.

I personally would be much more worried about a candidate that has never felt severe frustration before. Those poor bastards start running around with deer-in-the-headlights stares about six weeks in.

9/26/12

@jr253 Nice: allocentrism

You need to realize some of the banks you're interviewing with likely have your psychological profile if you've already taken those "personality" type of tests. They are designed to gauge your level of cooperation, teamwork, ambitiousness, work-life balance, etc.

How do you stand out?

Good answer: I always look for the fool proof solution. Since there is no fool proof solution, you'll stand out as a perfectionist, someone who's always trying to better things up

"I like money (as do most females) but love is...great :)"-student
"Perhaps you've failed to take into account my hidden assets"-007
Omnia

9/26/12

Do people still ask this question beyond entry level interviewing? Insane.

9/26/12

@ relinquis

Ha, yes, I've been asked it for more recent opportunities even though I'm more experienced....most acknowledge that it's a pretty stupid question for someone with a few years experience but they like hearing what people have to say.

In reply to Febreeze
9/26/12
Febreeze:

kryptonite.

Nice. If they are going to throw you a softball... might as well hit a home run.

9/26/12

i always say something along the lines of: I sometimes become a little impatient when I'm explaining something to someone and they either don't understand or don't agree with me. I sometimes forget that other people think differently and have different views, so I expect them to understand at the same pace that I did if I am walking them through a problem and solution...or to agree with me on a viewpoint...since it makes sense to me.

probably not the best one out there...

9/26/12

great thread 'rells, next drink's on me.

I usually just say I'm a perfectionist. I get frustrated when I know the team could have done better..

9/26/12

Does humour work?

Interviewer: So... What would you say is your biggest weakness?

Me: A combination of social awkwardness, arrogance and stupidity... *Smiles*

Interviewer (not amused): Thank your for taking the time to speak with us today. Good luck in your future endeavors.

In reply to bankerella
9/26/12
bankerella:
Oreos:

personally, i feel "fustrated" is a bad word to use.

The point of this question is that you have to say something negative about yourself. It can be a weak negative, but it must be negative.

Let's be MECE about this. The weakness will be either internal or external/behavioral. Choosing a behavioral weakness shows a lack of self-control. People who can't control their behavior aren't even ready yet to start working on internal processes. So I advise you to go with internal.

If you go with internal, it's going to be either cognitive (how your brain works, how you perceive) or emotional (how you feel). It's very hard to fix a cognitive weakness. (You can't cure stupidity.) Also, banking/PE have strong biases against people with cognitive weaknesses. So I advise you to go with emotional.

Within the realm of possible emotional weaknesses, only a few are banker-friendly. You need something endemic, mild, and productive. Frustration and impatience fit the bill.

Everyone in banking/PE is dealing with frustrations every day. (Anyone below VP who says otherwise is lying.) It's something everyone can relate to. So it's not off the wall to say that you've felt it in the past and that you're working on the perfect approach/response.

Perhaps you noticed that each example outlines the mitigation approach as well as the weakness? You would obviously never just say that your weakness is that you get frustrated, full stop.

You'd say, "I sometimes get a little frustrated when I face X difficult situation, and what I do to manage/mitigate that situation is Y." What you're showing there is that you have experience managing the tensions that arise during tough situations in banking.

I personally would be much more worried about a candidate that has never felt severe frustration before. Those poor bastards start running around with deer-in-the-headlights stares about six weeks in.

good answer but i feel personal weakness is too weak. fustration is an emotion which is on the road (without sounding too Yoda) to anger etc.. Further, it can be read as a sensitivity along the lines of: "hey, my feelings are effected by others beyond my control [slight hiperbole]". Hence, i'd always go with a "compared to others" or a general weakness that we all share, such as public speaking or speaking one's mind which is a skill that is learnable. such skills/weaknesses can be evolved easily through work experience or extra curriculars. i mean through my time in the work place my ability to stand up, tell someone they're (regardless of rank) wrong has increased dramatically.

"After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

In reply to jr253
9/26/12
jr253:

I've fielded this question by saying an analysis as part of my MBA program evaluated students on a number of different personality traits and I ranked at the extreme low end for allocentrism (yes, it's good to throw around MBA jargon at any chance). In other words, I tend to think others are motivated by the same things I am - profit, nice risk-adjusted return, etc - and I have to work extra hard at understanding others' motivations. I try to address this by over-communicating, blah blah, and although I sometimes struggle with it, it's a weakness that I'm aware of, blah blah.

Kid you not, most interviewers eat that sh*t up.

love this

"After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

9/26/12

I've asked a number of people, "What are you good at?". You would be surprised at how few people answer that well for such a softball question.

adapt or die:
What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

MY BLOG

In reply to SirTradesaLot
9/26/12
SirTradesaLot:

I've asked a number of people, "What are you good at?". You would be surprised at how few people answer that well for such a softball question.

That's a very good question that I've never thought to ask. Think I'll steal it.

9/26/12

What if you truly are an elitist? Can you spin that around as being a man of high standards and selectivity?

Ugh the FBI still quotes the Dow...
-Matt Levine

9/26/12

Actually, I don't take this question too seriously.
As an answer, I recently said that my orientation skills were bad, especially since Apple released its Maps app.
The guy laughed.
I'm waiting for his answer now..
I think they just want to see how spontaneous and unique you are

9/26/12

bankerella is the man. hands down. regardless, I wasn't offered a consulting position i interviewed for, and after I asked for feedback, she said, "I have someone who can bring experience to the table immediately, I don't think you'd have trouble, but it's valuable to have it immediately. your skills da da da da bullshit"

During the interview, I let her know my weakness was a lack of experience, being a new college graduate. I thought it was a bit crafty, but ultimately I was dinged. She was also very amazonian. That is all.

9/26/12
9/26/12

Greatest weakness ---> large breasted women

"You lose money chasing women, never lose women chasing money"
-Nas

9/26/12

Just say "Generally I have trouble lying" Then outline why this interview question is the hardest for you to answer because the status quo is bullshit.

9/26/12

I've actually said variations of these answers before and they have never worked out for me. I once told an analyst that my biggest weakness was I used to have difficulty doing menial work, but overtime and through my last internships I had learned the importance of mindless tasks and understood how doing these tasks perfectly results in your superiors trusting you with more advanced tasks. I've also used the multi-tasking example. I actually got yelled at by the first analyst for my response. He was potentially just a dick, but I've learned to give responses that have very little to do with banking instead. Now I say I get too caught up with understanding every small detail and have trouble seeing the big picture.

9/26/12

I always respond "chocolate....or icecream"

It's a great icebreaker, the interviewer typically cracks up a little bit and then i give my pitch about my opportunity areas.

9/26/12

My answer is I suffer from intellectual insecurity, meaning I am always trying to learn more.

9/26/12

Not sure if this is something that would be passable, what do you guys think?

Remember in Pulp Fiction, how Uma Thurman's character asks "In a conversation, do you listen or wait to talk?" and Travolta goes "I wait to talk, but I'm trying to listen more."

That would be my answer.

In reply to Febreeze
9/26/12
Febreeze:

Not sure if this is something that would be passable, what do you guys think?

Remember in Pulp Fiction, how Uma Thurman's character asks "In a conversation, do you listen or wait to talk?" and Travolta goes "I wait to talk, but I'm trying to listen more."

That would be my answer.

I'd respect that answer.

In reply to bankerella
9/26/12
bankerella:
Febreeze:

Not sure if this is something that would be passable, what do you guys think?

Remember in Pulp Fiction, how Uma Thurman's character asks "In a conversation, do you listen or wait to talk?" and Travolta goes "I wait to talk, but I'm trying to listen more."

That would be my answer.

I'd respect that answer.

Enough to stir my old-fashioned? (whatever that means...)

9/27/12

I feel angry when an old foreign looking associate bitch asking me questions other than "you want extra soy sauce with that?"

9/27/12

my biggest weaknesses? definitely bacon...

Robert Shaw
Recruiting Consultant
Lakeshore
Denver, CO

9/27/12

I don't even answer the question that was asked. I pick a weakness I used to have, then describe and quantify what I did to turn that weakness into a strength. It's an interview - I don't want to talk about my weaknesses; I want to talk about my strengths. It answers the real question, which is "Are you self-aware"? The logical successor to being self aware is acting on that self-awareness - i.e. improving yourself. That is what I want to be talking about.

In reply to 808
9/27/12
808:

It answers the real question, which is "Are you self-aware"? The logical successor to being self aware is acting on that self-awareness - i.e. improving yourself. That is what I want to be talking about.

Stellar point here. The question really is, "Are you self-aware?" I hadn't noticed that before. Thanks.

In reply to AndyLouis
9/27/12
AndyLouis:

David: So, let me ask you a question right off the bat. What do you think are your greatest strengths as a manager?
Michael: Why don't I tell you what my greatest weaknesses are? I work too hard. I care too much. And sometimes I can be too invested in my job.
David: Okay. And your strengths?
Michael: Well, my weaknesses are actually... strengths.
David: Oh. Yes. Very good.
Michael: Thank you.

Beautiful memories from the good ol Office days. +1

9/27/12

How I approach this question largely depends on the interviewer. If the connection is good, I might be a little emotional.

The Auto Show

9/27/12

Seriously folks... do NOT answer this honestly. This isn't confession. This is a pitch to get them to hire you so you can get paid. Certainly don't get emotional. Give the "how I overcame a minor weakness in the past" spiel that a previous poster (808) had suggested.

9/27/12

I ignore the question and redirect toward what I'm working on improving.

In reply to Relinquis
9/27/12
Relinquis:

Seriously folks... do NOT answer this honestly. This isn't confession. This is a pitch to get them to hire you so you can get paid. Certainly don't get emotional. Give the "how I overcame a minor weakness in the past" spiel that a previous poster (808) had suggested.

Interviewer: What's your biggest weakness?

Me: I'm not self-aware. To be fair, I guess I'm aware of the fact that I'm not self-aware. So, maybe it's not as big of a weakness as I thought. It's been something I've been working on.

adapt or die:
What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

MY BLOG

In reply to SirTradesaLot
9/27/12
SirTradesaLot:

I've asked a number of people, "What are you good at?". You would be surprised at how few people answer that well for such a softball question.

TradesaLot is correct. A question that is more often asked than the weaknesses one is "Why should we hire you". It pops out much often.

How would you answer that ? Especially knowing there are dozens, if not hundreds, of jacks you're up against.

"I like money (as do most females) but love is...great :)"-student
"Perhaps you've failed to take into account my hidden assets"-007
Omnia

In reply to SirTradesaLot
9/27/12
SirTradesaLot:
Relinquis:

Seriously folks... do NOT answer this honestly. This isn't confession. This is a pitch to get them to hire you so you can get paid. Certainly don't get emotional. Give the "how I overcame a minor weakness in the past" spiel that a previous poster (808) had suggested.

Interviewer: What's your biggest weakness?

Me: I'm not self-aware. To be fair, I guess I'm aware of the fact that I'm not self-aware. So, maybe it's not as big of a weakness as I thought. It's been something I've been working on.

Nicely played.

In reply to SirTradesaLot
9/27/12
SirTradesaLot:
Relinquis:

Seriously folks... do NOT answer this honestly. This isn't confession. This is a pitch to get them to hire you so you can get paid. Certainly don't get emotional. Give the "how I overcame a minor weakness in the past" spiel that a previous poster (808) had suggested.

Interviewer: What's your biggest weakness?

Me: I'm not self-aware. To be fair, I guess I'm aware of the fact that I'm not self-aware. So, maybe it's not as big of a weakness as I thought. It's been something I've been working on.

Touche ... +1SB

In reply to BatMasterson
9/28/12
Financier4Hire:

Good answer: I always look for the fool proof solution. Since there is no fool proof solution, you'll stand out as a perfectionist, someone who's always trying to better things up

I think this one can be viewed poorly, too. Perfectionists can get paralyzed when things aren't 'perfect'. Professionals in fast-paced environments (like banking and PE) where quick decisions often have to be made with incomplete information might view this characteristic negatively.

9/30/12

It doesnt necessarily have to be a personality weakness - you can just repeat an obvious weakness of your resume, and then give explanations for it, making this a bonus explanation question.

i.e., "I have low GPA" ---> because I was working two jobs, etc
"I have no internships" ---> I realized banking was for me late, wanted to explore other options, etc

If you can avoid making it about your personality, so much the better, because personality wise there is just no good answer...

To the starving man, beans are caviar

9/30/12
9/30/12

biggest strength: rock and water

9/30/12

Disagree. When I ask this question, I'm not asking for a resume weakness and I won't accept a resume weakness as an answer. I've got their resume right in front of me and I can be the judge of that, after all.

A pansy-ass answer like "My biggest weakness is that I have no internships" is going to 1) irritate the interviewer and 2) make them ask it a second time.

9/30/12

I actually agree w bankerella on this. Not to beat a dead horse but I've been on both sides of the interview table. I definately don't want to hear some BS about how you have a low GPA, gap in resume, lack experience, etc....that sh*t is obvious and I'm interviewing you despite those "flaws". I 1.) don't want to hear a BS answer about a minor weakness and 2.) would write the candidate off immediately if he/she turned it into a joke.

Every firm, industry has its own culture, etc. so that sh*t may fly sometimes but I want an honest answer and second the self-awareness....I want to hear a real weakness and how you work to overcome that, etc.

To OP, I don't know if you're just starting your career so you may or may not have a ton of work-related experience to relate to the interview but college students should at least be self-aware from group work, etc....more experienced professionals can answer this w work experience. I would respect a professional w 20 years experience that actually answered this Q honestly.

Then again, I work for a RE investment firm....but even as a former banker and PE guy, I just want an honest answer. If a 22 year old answered "I work too hard" or "I'm a perfectionist" I would end the interview immediately. Bottom line is, it's a legit question and you have to give a legit answer.

2/19/13

I know this will make me sound like a "total NOOB" but the answer I usually went with is "I'm a perfectionist, and that does take out a large chunk of my time because I re-read all of the models and emails several times, to make sure an error didn't somehow slip in" but judging by your post, you actually do highlight a personal weakness. Do you think I'm going the wrong way about the answer?

2/19/13

wonder if it's possible to answer the question with a completely left field response and make them laugh to break up the bullshit a little bit; then answer it a bit more serious after they cease guffawing

"Everything comes to those who hustle while they wait."
-Thomas Edison

In reply to WreckEmFinance
2/19/13

WreckEmFinance:
wonder if it's possible to answer the question with a completely left field response and make them laugh to break up the bullshit a little bit; then answer it a bit more serious after they cease guffawing

See my prob with that is.. If the interviewer seems like a cool person sure, but if you get a geezer that evidently has no sense of humor that will fuck you.

In reply to TooBigToFail
2/19/13

TooBigToFail:

See my prob with that is.. If the interviewer seems like a cool person sure, but if you get a geezer that evidently has no sense of humor that will fuck you.

I've had experiences on both ends of this spectrum. Interviewed at a top BB (GS/MS) a few years back and met with two mid level guys that were a blast, having fun and laughing all around. The third guy stepped in and asked for a weakness so I hit him with a joke. He proceeded to bend me over the table and have his way with me (verbally).

I usually go with a solid answer that is a real weakness but an understandable one. For instance in that same interview with some other people (before the laughing commenced) I answered that "at my prior job, one of my biggest strengths became a weakness that I had to alter. I usually set early deadlines for tasks so I have plenty of time to go over them before they're due. Suddenly I was trying to do this with a team of 5-7 people reporting to me however I was being unrealistic and inconsiderate of their other duties by expecting early deadlines to be met. It took a while but I was able to adjust this and am still improving with new situations, it just takes some understanding of what others' responsibilities are like."

Now that I interview a lot of others candidates, I prefer asking "Describe one time that you've failed". I find that this one more directly forces a real weakness out of the candidate instead of getting some BS answer about their "willingness to die for the cause" is somehow a weakness.

"Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game." - Donald Trump

2/19/13

Serious question, whatever happened to bankerella?

In reply to HOVA
2/19/13

HOVA:
Serious question, whatever happened to bankerella?

She graduated from high school.

"I like money (as do most females) but love is...great :)"-student
"Perhaps you've failed to take into account my hidden assets"-007
Omnia

2/19/13

During 'my story', I mention how multiple shoulder surgeries from football forced my to withdraw my enlistment from the military my senior year of HS. The only interview I was every asked this question I responded with "My shoulders". It got a few laughs and we moved on. If they don't laugh I'll quickly follow up with some actual response.

"If it were easy, everyone would do it"

2/19/13

As has been pointed out up-thread the real reason people ask this question is to see if you are self-aware. The best way to respond to these is to talk about how you have overcome a previous weakness...e.g. over the past one of the areas that I have sought to improve in is X. In order to do this, I have done A,B,C.

As a hiring manager, despite the fact that it is an overused question, I do look to see how self-aware someone is and the way you answer this question tells me a lot about you, how you interact with others and your EQ. A variation on this question that I have used recently is "what did your most recent performance review say were your greatest areas for growth?" The best answers in my opinion are those in which the candidate is honest but at the same time the candidate tells me how they have sought to improve upon their development areas (let's face it, we all have something to improve on and I am generally not going to ding someone for telling me they need to work on something...unless they bring up something that is 100% critical to their ability to perform the job that I am hiring for). The worst answers are ones in which candidates try to BS me, don't talk about how they have tried to improve or can't articulate a true weakness (e.g. telling me something glaringly obvious like my GPA sucks).

I recently asked this question to a candidate and he basically responded by saying that in his last review he did not have any areas of development and that he was a top ranked analyst in terms of overall stack rank and comp and that he could provide references from his prior employer. This answer basically tells me that this guy is clueless, arrogant and has no self-awareness or EQ. This answer alone got him dinged...despite the fact that technically he was the best candidates. In my world you have to have the ability to do the technical work but if you don't have the soft skills you won't be successful. For example, this answered told me that this guy likely doesn't understand how he comes off to others and let's say he is trying to get buy in for an acquisition from our leadership team he is likely not going to be aware enough to maneuver internal politics without alienating people.

In reply to harvardgrad08
2/19/13

harvardgrad08:
As has been pointed out up-thread the real reason people ask this question is to see if you are self-aware. The best way to respond to these is to talk about how you have overcome a previous weakness...e.g. over the past one of the areas that I have sought to improve in is X. In order to do this, I have done A,B,C.

As a hiring manager, despite the fact that it is an overused question, I do look to see how self-aware someone is and the way you answer this question tells me a lot about you, how you interact with others and your EQ. A variation on this question that I have used recently is "what did your most recent performance review say were your greatest areas for growth?" The best answers in my opinion are those in which the candidate is honest but at the same time the candidate tells me how they have sought to improve upon their development areas (let's face it, we all have something to improve on and I am generally not going to ding someone for telling me they need to work on something...unless they bring up something that is 100% critical to their ability to perform the job that I am hiring for). The worst answers are ones in which candidates try to BS me, don't talk about how they have tried to improve or can't articulate a true weakness (e.g. telling me something glaringly obvious like my GPA sucks).

I recently asked this question to a candidate and he basically responded by saying that in his last review he did not have any areas of development and that he was a top ranked analyst in terms of overall stack rank and comp and that he could provide references from his prior employer. This answer basically tells me that this guy is clueless, arrogant and has no self-awareness or EQ. This answer alone got him dinged...despite the fact that technically he was the best candidates. In my world you have to have the ability to do the technical work but if you don't have the soft skills you won't be successful. For example, this answered told me that this guy likely doesn't understand how he comes off to others and let's say he is trying to get buy in for an acquisition from our leadership team he is likely not going to be aware enough to maneuver internal politics without alienating people.


I generally agree and this is why I think 'I lack self awareness' is the silver bullet answer. Yes, let it sink in.

EDIT: nevermind I already answered this. I really do lack self-awareness.

adapt or die:
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2/19/13

What about mentioning procrastination? Or is that too honest? Or too common?

A long time ago a mentor asked me what my biggest flaw was that I wanted to change. He then proceeded to laugh and say that if that was my biggest worry, then I had no worries.

But to this day, I still feel its my procrastination that's kept me from getting a perfect GPA, learning that new language, or or catching up on my professional development.

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." - Albert Einstein

2/20/13

ive always said physical imperfections..to then relate to my running of camp hope and making changes

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk

9/3/14

I don't think it is wise to say I'll get "impatient""frustrated" with difficuties...After all your interviewer has survived these difficulties, and they has no responsibility to show sympathy or agreement to you.

9/4/14

I usually answer that question by saying my weaknesses are always changing because I am constantly working to improve those weaknesses. Then I talk about some weaknesses that I had when I first started college, and tell how I made conscious efforts (implemented a plan) to improve them, and demonstrate an example of how in 2nd - 4th year it worked. Then I finish with, "I feel it's important to realize that everyone has weaknesses, but more importantly, for people to be constantly making efforts to reduce the impact of their weaknesses, or potentially even turn them to strengths."

In reply to Febreeze
9/4/14
9/4/14

I think it is very important to give an honest answer to this question. No, don't tell the interviewer that you have a weakness for mud-pit wrestling, but something that shows you are very introspective and self-aware. Giving a former weakness doesn't count either. This is an opportunity for you to build a relationship of trust with your interviewer, because whether you realize it or not, most of the time, they can tell when you are giving a BS answer or not.

Past example (really happened):

Interviewer 2: You seem to be polished in your answers and very confident.
Interviewer 1: Please tell me your greatest weaknesses.
Me: Well, although it may seem that I am very confident in my answers, on the inside, I am very nervous and shaken up when being put on the spot. This has been a weakness of mine always growing up. Acknowledging this, throughout university, I would always volunteer to speak and the like in order to get over this "stage fright". Nowadays, I may be able to cover up the fact that I'm nervous, but on the inside, it is still a very hard thing for me to do.

I went over the top and even listed another weakness (sometimes I get too focused on work and forget that as part of a team, it's important to sometimes just ask your co-workers how their days are going and build that other side of the relationship).

Which leads me to my next point: make sure to always answer the interviewer's questions, but don't be afraid to go over the top and give a little extra. This turns the interview into a conversation rather than a straight-up Q&A.

Lastly, DON'T REHEARSE YOUR ANSWERS. Sure, having your "go-to" answer is okay, but it is important to get a feel for the situation and to adjust your answer accordingly, in both tone, verbiage and length.

In reply to TooShort
9/4/14

YES. So long as 'you' really mean it, I don't see any flaws with this type of response. The specific example you gave makes a lot of sense to me and I think it would be compelling to the interviewer (as it may well have been!). I would SB you if I could.

"I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful."
"If you win a gold medal in the Olympics, my bias would be you should quit swimming that day."

9/4/14

Get a read on the interviewer and say something that he/she probably won't think is a weakness. For example, I was interviewing with a guy that struck me as pretty intense. So I told him that my biggest weakness was that sometimes I was a little too blunt. He nodded and laughed, as he clearly thought that was a strength, not a weakness. If I had been interviewing with somebody that seemed like a pussy, I would have came up with something else.

9/5/14

Could I say: "I admire a lot of the people I consider successful for their ability to problem-solve on their own. In trying to emulate this, I sometimes do not ask for help even though it is completely acceptable to do so. It is something I am aware of now, and more and more after I know I have put forward my best effort, I do not shy away as much of reaching out for a push in the right direction."

In reply to bankerella
10/21/14

Thank you for breaking it down that way. It helps seeing it through the eyes of the interviewer, much appreciated.

In reply to Magilla
1/6/16

What would the interviewer do?

1/6/16

and negate with I'm trying to learn by ......

1/6/16

Or just tell them a truth about some weakness which you can't see affecting the job too much and then tell them that you are trying to overcome this by..........

Hoope that helps.

1/6/16

yeah I think everyone who goes to interview is told to push off a strength as a witness, which gets old.

I know someone who got a job, because he was honest and told the interviewer that he wasn't a fan of Mondays. The recruiter told him that his honesty was refreshing.

1/6/16

I cracked a joke about why my best friend thinks I suck. The interviewers couldn't stop laughing for like three minutes. I got the offer. I guarantee you that recruiters get tired of hearing the same cliched answers to that and look for something extra to differentiate a 3.74 econ major with a minor in finance from a 3.70 econ major with a minor in finance

In reply to Salam Shpekov
1/6/16
Salam Shpekov:

I cracked a joke about why my best friend thinks I suck. The interviewers couldn't stop laughing for like three minutes. I got the offer. I guarantee you that recruiters get tired of hearing the same cliched answers to that and look for something extra to differentiate a 3.74 econ major with a minor in finance from a 3.70 econ major with a minor in finance

Nice, mind if we know what you ended up saying? Just to get an idea.

In reply to ZiggyMon
1/6/16

anyway you can stand out in a good way is a good thing...From my limited experience, it seems people have a much easier time finding ways to stand out for negative things, which is amplified given the competition to get these jobs.

1/6/16

My weakness is that I tried to multi-task too many varsity sports teams in middle school and didn't get into the most prestigious highschool in the bay area?

Although, I'm interning at RS funds in San fRan as we speak.

1/6/16

You want to make your weakness sound like a positive. For example, I said in an interview once that I occasionally become too involved in my school work/work in general and unfortunately have been known to neglect my family and friends on the eve of a test or big project, or when something needed done in the office.

In reply to UES802
1/6/16
IBDilo26386:

You want to make your weakness sound like a positive. For example, I said in an interview once that I occasionally become too involved in my school work/work in general and unfortunately have been known to neglect my family and friends on the eve of a test or big project, or when something needed done in the office.

haha that's exactly what they want and you know it.

You can be honest and describe a true weakness, too. Just don't tell them you can't work more than 5hrs/day or something dumb that will obviously hurt your chances.

Banking > VC > Tech PE; PM me if you would like any advice I'm happy to help

1/6/16

I think the best way is to turn a weakness into a strength (but still giving a real weakness). So don't say anything like perfectionism. That's the worst answer possible. The second worst might be procrastination, which not only is too commonplace but also a red flag for finance jobs. And don't say anything completely irrelevant either (i.e. if you're addicted to something). Remember that you can always say how you've been working on improving in the weak area.

1/6/16

this is a good question

however

they're not stupid and they know we preprared to "lie" about this question then what if they reply "working too hard sounds like a strength to me, what other weakness?" (i heard one of my friend was in that situation) how are you going to respond?

In reply to arcanne
1/6/16

True, true lol. Really though, what weakness would you be willing to reveal that wouldn't have an adverse effect on your chances at getting a job? Case in point, I feel my weakness is that I'm not incredibly gifted. However, that being said I usually can overcome this by outworking people. Could me saying this make it seem as though I am meticulous, analytical, and persistent with regard to work? Yeah, definitely, but it also would bring into question my level of intelligence, especially because I, myself, seemingly question it.

1/6/16

This was a tough question for me to answer. Find something that you're working to improve. I was always really nervous during interviews, so I always mentioned that I spoke too quickly as one of my weaknesses. I followed that up with what I was doing to work on that (picked a part-time job that involved a lot of presentations and public speaking).

In reply to UES802
1/6/16
IBDilo26386:

You want to make your weakness sound like a positive. For example, I said in an interview once that I occasionally become too involved in my school work/work in general and unfortunately have been known to neglect my family and friends on the eve of a test or big project, or when something needed done in the office.

Come on, I would have nearly laughed in your face had you said that to me in an interview. Thats so transparent.

1/6/16

i work at a bb and the operations people are all pretty lazy and stupid. learning to work with them is a challenge.

1/6/16

I am a regular poster here, but i changed my name for this thread, because the answer I gave is pretty unique and people know about it. When asked my biggest weakness according to my best friend was, I said that "knowing my best friend, he would probably say confidence with girls". Instant hit. One of the interviewers laughed for good 3 mins, the other one laughed for like 30 sec and managed to continue the interview, but it was pretty obvious, that, after all other factors, this pretty much nailed it. I got the offer and accepted for a top BB

1/6/16

How do you recover from this in a second round interview?

"After a couple of remarks you made last time, I get the feeling that you're a bit arrogant..."

1/6/16

What I overheard from a good number of people who interview summer/FT candidates where I currently work is to answer your "weakness" question with a former weakness you are currently working to improve. Shows you take initiative to correct your problems while still being honest. Also I have noticed a good number of banks have been departing from the weakness question to the "Whats your biggest regret in college?". Be prepared for that.

1/6/16

Tell them that you're not particularly good with numbers, and that you often don't pay attention to detail.

While this won't go over particularly well for a prospective intern / analyst, you might just find yourself with an offer for an MD spot.

1/6/16

Have you guys ever had that "Tell me about a time you FAILED and how you dealt with it"?

1/6/16

I got called out for giving a weakness that was really a strength. The guy leaned forward, said "Bullshit, tell me a real weakness." I later found out it was more a test of how I handle myself under pressure than really caring about a weakness.

CompBanker

1/6/16
1/6/16

You could point a weakness out and tell them how its no longer a weakness,and how you worked on it to improve yourself

1/6/16

I always wanted to just say Kryptonite with a dead serious tone. Then just say next question just to see what the interviewer's reaction would be.

In reply to osdekus
1/6/16
osdekus:

When asked my biggest weakness according to my best friend was, I said that "knowing my best friend, he would probably say confidence with girls".

Damn, I would have hired you too.

My weakness is, I couldn't ever pull that off that answer with a straight face.

In reply to Texasmade
1/6/16
Texasmade:

I always wanted to just say Kryptonite with a dead serious tone. Then just say next question just to see what the interviewer's reaction would be.

lol....im going to try that at my next interview!

In reply to EBITDAMargin
1/6/16
EBITDAMargin:

Come on, I would have nearly laughed in your face had you said that to me in an interview. Thats so transparent.

I would have to think that every possible response to this question would be transparent to some degree. Would you say, "oh, well I'm not too good at Excel", "I require minimum 10 hours of sleep per night", or "I never was very good at accounting, because my financial accounting teacher sucked"? Is it bullshit? Yeah. So what? Rather than making yourself sound incompetant, why not throw something like that out there, even if it is bs? These guys know that most of these questions are crafted beforehand anyway. It almost seems to me that questions like this show how much you prepared for the interview.

Then again Ebitda...what would you answer to this question? I'm interested to know because, I agree, that response blows, but I hate to make reference to a weakness or failure I experienced in high school as many seem to be suggesting.

1/6/16

"My weakness is that I'm too generous."

1/6/16

make sure you tell them that you are working on your weakness whatever that might be.

1/6/16

After telling them your weakness is Kryptonite, wait a few seconds and then say your real weakness is not knowing when it is appropriate to crack a joke.

They'll love it.

CompBanker

In reply to osdekus
1/6/16
osdekus:

I am a regular poster here, but i changed my name for this thread, because the answer I gave is pretty unique and people know about it. When asked my biggest weakness according to my best friend was, I said that "knowing my best friend, he would probably say confidence with girls". Instant hit. One of the interviewers laughed for good 3 mins, the other one laughed for like 30 sec and managed to continue the interview, but it was pretty obvious, that, after all other factors, this pretty much nailed it. I got the offer and accepted for a top BB

How is confidence with girls a weakness? Or are u saying that you're NOT confident around girls?

1/6/16
1/6/16
osdekus:

I am a regular poster here, but i changed my name for this thread, because the answer I gave is pretty unique and people know about it. When asked my biggest weakness according to my best friend was, I said that "knowing my best friend, he would probably say confidence with girls". Instant hit. One of the interviewers laughed for good 3 mins, the other one laughed for like 30 sec and managed to continue the interview, but it was pretty obvious, that, after all other factors, this pretty much nailed it. I got the offer and accepted for a top BB

greenbullets:

How is confidence with girls a weakness? Or are u saying that you're NOT confident around girls?

i thought it was the latter..? or that your confident, but should't be?

1/6/16

as a previous monkey posted, i usually say kryptonite, i have used that on all my engineering interviews and i got offers for most of them, i am curious if it would work in the finance world.

In reply to Texasmade
1/6/16
Texasmade:

I always wanted to just say Kryptonite with a dead serious tone. Then just say next question just to see what the interviewer's reaction would be.

Hillarious, I would try this if I wasnt black lol.

In reply to iyados
1/6/16
iyados:

as a previous monkey posted, i usually say kryptonite.

i'd be pretty careful with that one. it's not very funny.

_______________________________________
http://www.drmarkklein.blogspot.com/

1/6/16

My ankle and my love for mexican food.

  • ....
  •  1/6/16
1/6/16

i have a similar weakness...

i have trouble working with individuals i dislike and/or dont respect.

1/6/16

Chocolate cake.

I have a big time sweet tooth.

1/6/16

I waste time on unnecessary things when they interest me instead of focusing on what I need to be doing. For example: I will waste 2 hours trying to make an excel macro that will format a sheet for me instead of spending 10 minutes and just formating it normally from the start.

However, if I try to say something like this in an interview, the interviewer will think I'm full of it.

CompBanker

1/6/16

Had the same issue with Excel a week back. Copy/Pasting is mind-numbing, but setting the Excel Macro was a puzzle waiting to be solved.

1/6/16

i guess my biggest is that I tell it like it is, and im a gossip. I get annoyed easily by people who are incompetent but let the world know that they suck.

im trying to do a better job of being more discreet with my comments.

1/6/16
1/6/16

thirdallnighter, did you use that in your interview? How did it go? I heard those are the types of weaknesses they are NOT looking for (i.e. really a strength in disguise). A lot of people I know tried that one, and the interviewer just said, "That's BS. Give me a real one."

1/6/16

jaclee, it really is my biggest weakness. I used it once (for finance, not banking). Did not really go so well, perhaps because I wasn't entirely convincing.

I guess I should also mention I hold very high standards too?

It eventually leads a slippery slope where I hate my team. Ends up with me working badly in teams (I can't help that it's staffed with incompetence), which leads to me wanting to do the complete project by itself. This is not the first, not the last time it's happened. It's one of the reasons I want to enter more lucrative sectors, the fallacy? that there is less incompetence in banking/HFs/PE.

1/6/16
1/6/16

kryptonite and planets not powered by a yellow sun

1/6/16

I suppose it's a legit weakness too but I think over time it just became cliche. I guess everything is a good idea until everyone starts using it. It's like that whole perfectionist thing. But if that's your real weakness, then it is.

1/6/16

My weakness is that i cannot depend on people. Even while playing sports i feel like if i don't do everything on my own, no one will. I feel that if you need something done the right way, then do it urself!

1/6/16

My weakness is that I can't take shit from people, doesn't matter if it's an Associate or Head of the Group, you get cute with me and I'm giving it right back.

Of course, I didn't say this in the interviews, I went with the typical perfectionist banker bs....

1/6/16

smh at some people coming in here and giving interview answer bullshit. "I hold people to such a high standard, that I often do all the work myself."

GTFOOH with that shit.

My biggest weakness: Vagina.

Any other answer is suspect.

1/6/16

No one's perfect. Take a long hard look at yourself and think of something you could improve. I for example tended to be a bit stubborn when it came to asking for help with a project; I'd rather struggle with it on my own until I get it. That works in a slow paced environment but in trading/banking, not so. As a result, I've become much more open to accepting help when needed and that has definitly helped improve my efficiency and made me more knowledgable at the same time.

Sounds lame but are there really any answers to these questions that aren't? At least this one's true and not just something that is intended to please the interviewer. Of course you don't want to say something that is a complete turn off; try to think of something that isn't terrible but something you are actively working to improve upon.

1/6/16

I usually would say something like, "I'm a terrible singer" just to be funny, then I would actually talk about something I'm working on, like WxOnWallStreet said. You just need to think about what kinds of things are hard for you, then how you're dealing with it. The worst thing you could do on this question is come off fake.

1/6/16

for the advice. I usually like bkm's method and come off with a joke, and then think of something.

Would saying something along the lines of being "too ambitious" turn them off?

I'm pretty much interviewing for Ops/Finance ... but eventually want to move into S&T.

1/6/16

Sometimes I just work too hard, they'll love that

jk

1/6/16

It doesn't matter what you say, as long as it won't affect your job performance (i.e. don't say "I hate and suck at doing DCFs"). just say something muted but true and sound genuine about it and relay how your improving and how you can succeed despite this weakness. If you have to ask other people on a msg board what their weaknesses are so that you can reuse them in your interview, I guarantee that you won't sound geniune and I guarantee that you'll fail.

1/6/16

I think that it if you say something a little more meaningful/genuine like I get angry at times you'll be fine don't something cliched it'll make you look stupid and fake.

1/6/16

when i'm focused on something, i can loose track of everything around me, including the time. i am working on it by using my phone alarm to set time limits for things.

this one helped me get the job. it was honest in the sense that it really is a weakness, but it is fairly easy to fix with the alarm. i still actually do it to make sure i don't spend too much time on shit.

1/6/16

I still have no idea what's a good way to answer this one.

1/6/16

Just be honest and say how you are improving them and give examples of progress.

1/6/16

Don't be honest if it's a real weakness. I think this question is mostly a shit test to see if you will acceidentally give away a real weakness like "I don't get along well in groups" or something like that. Beleive it or not, people often fall into this trap and give the interviewer a reason to ding them.

It's also not good to give the cookie-cutter answers that are obvious BS, like "I work too hard" or "I have too much attention to detail." Try to give a relatively harmless weakness and say how you improved on it. Most importantly, try to answer this question and move on- don't give the interviewer a reason to question or probe further with your answer. Some possible answers:

-I used to not be so comfortable with public speaking but have improved through _____.
-I get a little impatient when other people don't do their fair share of work. But have learned to do my work and communicate with others through ___.

You get the idea. Key takeaways:
1) Don't give a true weakness for the position.
2) Don't give a bullshit answer you read in the vault guide that everyone says.
3) Give a simple harmless answer and move on.

1/6/16

I think you can give a "real" weakness but not one that will cause them to question your ability to do the job or freak them out about you. I once had to answer true or false to a question about whether voices told me to hurt people for a high level job. Even if you were crazy, it's amazing that someone would answer that question with "true". Like Banker88 said, it's surprising the answers that come out of people's mouths.

Interviewers are looking to find out the following:
1. Do you have any self-awareness? If you say you have no weaknesses or being a perfectionist is your weakness, you have no self-awareness
2. have you had to work hard to overcome anything? you will hit walls guaranteed as a banker. have you struggled or failed at something and had to overcome it? This is why a "real" weakness can be a better answer as long as it's not too real
3. Do you know how to answer this totally predictable question?

How to answer, "What is your greatest weakness?"- http://bit.ly/jQLC1

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Connect to the Advice & People
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1/6/16

"I get a little impatient when other people don't do their fair share of work" is actually overused and BS. They'll see through that one, as it's not too different from working too hard, perfectionist, etc. That kind of response was probably good when the first person to ever think of it used it. Public speaking would be an all right response if the job doesn't involve much public speaking. It also tends to be socially excusable since not many can claim to be great at it. In any case, try to make everything you say unique because everyone else is also looking for the "best way to answer" for weakness. Banker88 is right when he said it's good to show how you're working on your weakness, so this part must also be unique.

1/6/16

Agreed something small would be the way to go here. Most interviewers can read right through the bullshit.

1/6/16

I am asked this question all of the time, and every time I conduct an interview prep I ask this question and am always shocked by the answer I get. Everything from "banker killer" weaknesses, such as can't multitask, can't work in teams, have zero analytical ability, etc. On the other side of the spectrum, I get answers like "I work too hard," or "I love working too much - I love working 90 hours per week" - Bullshit! and if it's not, I'll still think it is as the interviewer.

So, that said, here is how I recommend answering this question:

1. Give a real weakness that isn't a "banker killer" weakness - in other words, give a real weakness, but one that doesn't show weakness in an area that is ESSENTIAL to be a good analyst - attention to detail, good teammate, etc.

2. After giving the weakness and expressing how it has been a weakness through, perhaps, a quick example illustrating the weakness, provide proof/real examples and steps taken towards remedying the weakness. You don't need to have completely eliminated the weakness, but you need to be able to show concrete steps taken and those you will continue to take to remedy the weakness.

3. And finally, if you can, provide an example of how you have begun to implement the remedies and have moved towards eliminating the issue.

Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any other questions.

IBanker
www.BankonBanking.com
[email protected]
Interview Prep, Resume Revisions, News, Articles and More - Stop by Now!

1/6/16

What if you give a real weakness, even one that maybe important to banking, but you talk about how you've improved a lot? If that's not acceptable, then what kinds of answers are acceptable (i.e., what are examples of real weaknesses that won't ruin your chances)?

1/6/16

Say something along the lines of "Getting lost in the details." It is a real weakness, but not a deal breaker. You can substantiate it with perhaps a story from a past internship showing how focusing too much on the small details that were not relevant to the overall project hindered your performance. Then discuss how you are improving. Getting lost in the details is at minimum semi-relevant to banking and your interviewer will be happy to see you at least recognize a real weakness.

Just don't say, "I work too hard" "I try too hard" "I take on too many tasks/extracurriculars" or "I got an A- instead of an A in a class"...those are all very poor choices.

1/6/16

Why is it bad to say that you pile too much on your plate if its true, you can show that its true, and you can spin it into a positive for the firm?

1/6/16

I don't think taking on too many tasks is a weakness, if you say "I take on too many things in my personal life to handle my work life" that may be a deal breaker. I know that is a legit weakness of mine, and I've said it at just about every interview I've ever had and haven't had a problem with it. Saying "Sometimes I spread myself too thin, and often get so bogged down in everything I'm doing my social/personal life suffers" isn't a bad way to put it. I agree that the rest of those answers are BS though.

1/6/16

Tunnel vision is always a good one.

--------------------------------------------------------
"I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcom

1/6/16

When I hear "I take on too many things" I can easily see how that would be a nightmare weakness for both a full time and summer analyst.

"Oh, I must have taken on too many things and I don't have it done yet, because I'm trying to only be a few hours late with all the other things I am working on. "

Good weaknesses:

I am impatient
I worry too much about past failures
I don't speak up enough

The only right way to answer this is to say the weakness and then give a specific example of something you are doing to address your weakness now.

1/6/16

essentially, your weakness must meet four criteria in order for you to "pass" this question:

[1] your weakness musn't be something that will piss off your colleagues (e.g. "i sometimes have trouble turning my work in on time")

[2] an upshot of our first criterion, your weakness should not be something that will cost the firm money (e.g. "i have a tendency to be absent-minded")

[3] your weakness should be something you are steadily eliminating (e.g. "i used to take on too much work in group situations, but, after being elected president of _________ student group a year ago, i've learned to delegate much more effectively")

[4] your weakness should be legit (e.g. "i sometimes get too hung up on the details of a project"), not self-serving bullshit (e.g. " i'm a workaholic")

In reply to ibes_answer
1/6/16
ibes_answer:

When I hear "I take on too many things" I can easily see how that would be a nightmare weakness for both a full time and summer analyst.

"Oh, I must have taken on too many things and I don't have it done yet, because I'm trying to only be a few hours late with all the other things I am working on. "

Good weaknesses:

I am impatient
I worry too much about past failures
I don't speak up enough

The only right way to answer this is to say the weakness and then give a specific example of something you are doing to address your weakness now.

Well, I take on too many things but I don't turn in stuff late. I may go with the "impatient" answer from now on. though. I don't worry about past failures, and I always speak up, so those won't work for me. Impatience can easily be spun into a positive for the firm.

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With a question like this, try to state the obvious (but not in an insulting tone of course.) If it's something that the interviewer can see is a potential weakness of yours, despite giving him/her your best first impression, then mention it! First, the interviewer can see that you're being honest. Second, you're not losing "points" by mentioning a new weakness that the interviewer might not have been aware of.

For example, let's say you don't have that much experience working in large teams and the interviewer sees that from your resume. State "I don't have a lot of experience working in large teams" (unless working in large teams is central to the success of the role you're interviewing for!)

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$199 seems a little above the price point of a lot of college students. I would absolutely use it if it were ~ $129. Perhaps you could experiment with the times (e.g. a 25 min interview and a 20 minute review).

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great insight from Chris- Thanks!!

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I look forward to hearing more of your tips Chris. Thanks!

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Good interview with Scott, and I would definitely recommend reading "Polished."

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Smooth_Nico and Maverik,

Thanks for the feedback. The next Q & A is in the works, and will be out soon.

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Is there a Kindle format of the book in the works?

- Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered.
- The harder you work, the luckier you become.
- I believe in the "Golden Rule": the man with the gold rules.

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Would it impact me negatively if I answered this with "brunettes and 15 year old scotch?" Could show how well I would fit into the group and I've always been told that honesty is the best policy.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

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Chris,

I'm curios to hear your background. Have you done banking?

Thanks.

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M&I also recently did an article on this.

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i like it happy pants

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My biggest weakness is that I like to sleep with CEO wives.

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lol. yes.

Please mention this as your weakness. One less competitor for me.
Don't forget to mention your disinterest in the markets.

Because when you're in a room full of smart people, smart suddenly doesn't matter--interesting is what matters.

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Just heard it from someone who actually works in HR. Do not say anything like this or "I am a perfectionist" type of things. They hate answers like this and they can tell the made-up answers.

Maybe you can say something genuine and related to the work that you'll be doing and how you are working to improve it.

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