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I know that the "what is your greatest weakness" question has probably been discussed before, even though I am still unsure of a good answer.

But I got the question "name me 3 of your greatest weaknesses" from a boutique bank and got dinged. And my friend also got the question from a BB phrased "Name me 3 of your greatest weaknesses, I know that your first two will be BS, so give me 3."

WTF are you supposed to answer to that? They don't want to hear that you have none cause then you're arrogant, they don't want to hear 3 bullshit answers (i.e. "I'm a perfectionist"), but if you give them a real weakness you screw yourself. I feel like it's a trap you can't escape.

Comments (14)

  • BankonBanking's picture

    For the BB question already, you have to fire back with the same intensity that it is being delivered. If the interviewer flat out says "I know the first two will be BS, so give me 3," I think you have to give him 2 BS ones, and then one real one - such as, "alright, my first weakness is that I take my job too seriously, which results in my second weakness that I work too hard. My third weakness is X," and make it an actual weakness, BUT, one that you have been clearly working towards improving and have made some strong progress in that respect. The weakness question isn't an endall, it is more a test to see how comfortable you are, and whether you can be straightforward without giving away the farm. For some interviewers, the BS answer is the right answer, for other interviewers, they expect something real, but something that you have clearly improved upon and know how to fully beat it. Remember, if you are giving a real answer, then just be sure to clearly express how you've improved upon it (significantly, ideally), and what further steps you are taking - also, be comfortable with it and don't dwell on it - it is a simply question, so give a simple answer - what it is, and how you have started to and are fixing it - done, next question.

    Three weaknesses is definitely a lot, so for the boutique, it is definitely a tough question and to be based on the interviewer - maybe they wanted some BS answers, maybe they wanted you to rebut with one solid weakness, maybe it was part of a line of questioning. For the BB, I think he just wanted an actual weakness and was trying to let you know that he's expecting a BS answer, so don't insult him with one.

  • Mzz's picture

    My favorite:
    -I sometimes overanalyze/think little things (I actually follow this one up with an example of an exam had)

    From what I've seen, interviewers really liked it.

  • KariPari's picture

    ^^^I like that one. I still have yet to get the common strength/weakness question in all the interviews I've been on.

  • Banker88's picture

    Anyone have good answers to this question?

  • In reply to Mzz
    Boutique Banking's picture

    Mez wrote:
    My favorite:
    -I sometimes overanalyze/think little things (I actually follow this one up with an example of an exam had)

    This is a good one, I've used it before. This question sucks, but another answer could be something like: "I have the tendency to expect a lot from myself and others around me." Anything that shows you are a hard worker and you will bust your ass.

    "I don't think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."
    -John D. Rockefeller

  • trade4size's picture

    anyone who told me a bullshit answer along the lines of...

    I am pefectionist
    I work too hard
    I expect too much from myself
    I overanalyze

    Is not telling their real biggest weakness because they are afraid it will get them dinged. Too bad their bullshit answer seems worse than just being honest. If you give a retarded fluff answer that is not a real weakness you better be damn sure the interviewer is not a person like myself. If they want the monastic cult like formulated answers then by all means feed it to them.

    "Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

    "Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

  • DDGM1112's picture

    Trade4size, I have always thought that maybe the interviewer might appreciate a blunt, honest answer rather than a rehearsed, well-articulated fluff answer. You say that some interviewers may prefer the latter while you appreciate the former. Obviously, going the honest route would be a brave and appreciated one if you someone like you is the interviewer. But, if not, it could be an "auto-ding" like you mentioned.

    So, how would you suggest an interviewee to proceed? I have never been in the position to interview someone so I would welcome your response and insight. Thanks in advance.

  • trade4size's picture

    The real skill is being able to read the person that is interviewing you. An interview is like a poker game where you are dealing with imperfect information and different bits are given away as things progress. I would think someone from HR would be more likely to want to hear the rehearsed fluffy answer and and someone senior that doesn't have time for bullshit would appreciate honesty. Prepare both answers would be the safest thing but you just have to use your best judgment as to which answer to give.

    Depending on where you are interviewing this could be a question that is very heavily weighted. Its design is put you in a tough situation and your ability to give a clear answer without hesitation is key.

    "Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

    "Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

  • Banker88's picture

    How about saying confidently that you have not worked on investment banking deals, but have done similar work as an investment banking analyst in other jobs, and even been teaching yourself financial modeling so you feel that you have the necessary skills?

  • ShreddiesBrah's picture

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  • prospectivebanker's picture