2/16/09

I know that this is a common question. I just wanted to see everybody's opinion on what are good responses and what aren't. One of the answers that I have used before was that my weakness is my passion because I can become overly passionate about what I am doing, like pitching a certain stock, which leads to me not taking criticism very well on that stock. Is this a good answer or a bad answer to give in an interview and why?

Comments (42)

2/16/09

just make sure that you also let your interviewer know what you're doing to work on your weakness/how you've improved on it

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2/16/09

Passion is never a weakness. However, I think you can say that you are stubborn because of your passion, which is a definite weakness. Also, remember that no one wants to hire someone with an ego. So if your insecure, your better off studying your technicals inside and out, verses trying to wow your interviewers with a bull shit answer about a weakness that in most cases is a major strength. A weakness is a weakness, period, and it shouldn't be up to discussion of whether it could be a strength or a weakness when you say it. However, you obviously shouldn't be so up front as to say your lazy, but something that isn't too major.

2/16/09

The weakness question is just a bullshit test. If you can give them a decent answer then they will check the box next to "ability to bs when necessary" and move on. If you stumble or can't give an an answer, or say something stupid (like your actual weaknesses) then you fail the test and won't get hired.

The specific answer doesn't matter; they don't expect a truthful answer. Just make sure your delivery is good and it's not an incriminating answer.

2/16/09

Would an acceptable answer be:

"When working in groups, I have difficulty delegating and feel the need to do all the work myself"

In reply to drexelalum11
2/16/09

drexelalum11:
Would an acceptable answer be:

"When working in groups, I have difficulty delegating and feel the need to do all the work myself"

I would not say that. It implies a lack of leadership and organizational talents.

In reply to sbmerchant
2/16/09

sbmerchant:
drexelalum11:
Would an acceptable answer be:

"When working in groups, I have difficulty delegating and feel the need to do all the work myself"

I would not say that. It implies a lack of leadership and organizational talents.

Would it be better if changed to:

"When working in groups, I have a tendency to feel I need to double check everyone else's work"

I'd assumed that would seem too much like I'm an ass

2/16/09

ive often used "im a perfectionist"

2/16/09

For FT interviews, I used the "no IB experience" (worked at an accounting firm) and "I go to a liberal arts college so not as in depth as a kid from a business school." I'm not sure if you can use those, but they're good "weaknesses" and don't really show weakness. At least my interviewers seemed to like them.

2/16/09

I dont know about the perfectionist one. Just use something that you know is a weakness, but use the majority of the time explaining how you have improved. For instance, I talked about how I might not be too familiar with all the economics jargon because I come from an engineering background but I am improving it by XXX <- internship, wsj whatever publication you can think of. They want to hear a honest answer.

In reply to Ricqles
2/16/09

eric1025:
I dont know about the perfectionist one. Just use something that you know is a weakness, but use the majority of the time explaining how you have improved. For instance, I talked about how I might not be too familiar with all the economics jargon because I come from an engineering background but I am improving it by XXX <- internship, wsj whatever publication you can think of. They want to hear a honest answer.

IMO, an answer like this is the best. They want an honest answer, but they dont really want to hear your true weakness. Saying something like "Im a chronic procrastinator and Ive been known to be lazy" may be your true weaknesses, but it's obviously not something you want to say.

2/16/09

I usually say that sometimes I take on too many tasks that I can reasonably handle. I use an example from my internship last summer where I took on multiple tasks and tried to multi-task to complete them all. as a result, i made careless errors on one project but since then i've learned how to prioritize projects, work more efficiently, and pay close attention to detail.

you always want to be truthful but not say anything that would jeopardize them hiring you--take a "weakness" and spin it into something positive..

2/16/09

ive used delegating responsibilities to others. If im wrong id rather have the fault all on me.

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2/16/09

I've used "over-thinking simple things at times"

In reply to Frank Slaughtery
2/16/09

iambateman:
ive often used "im a perfectionist"

I've also used something very similar, same idea.

2/16/09

I don't know if "I'm a perfectionist" is a great one because it's not a weakness for a banker. Banker's have to be perfect, so that's likely to be a strength.

You usually want to give a real weakness, but not a glaring weakness. As mentioned above, "I am terribly lazy" is not a good weakness. starttumbler has a good example, though I'd be hesitant to mention making careless errors while juggling multiple projects because, quite frankly, you'll be handling multiple projects all the time. Unless you have a real good example to show how you have improved, I'd likely leave out any weakness that involves careless/minor errors.

2/17/09

if you answer "I'm a perfectionist," then you're immediately letting us know that you're "terribly lazy" because you couldn't even bother to take a minute to come up with something that isn't the most popular answer

3/15/09

Here's my advice on how to handle the weakness question:

In this short blog post, I discuss the secret to answering the weakness question.
http://blog.seattleinterviewcoach.com/2009/01/how-...

In this longer post, I analyze Barack Obama's response to a variant of the common greatest weakness interview question, drawing inspiration from an interview between Katie Couric and Obama.
http://blog.seattleinterviewcoach.com/2009/01/ace-...

- Lewis, Seattle Interview Coach

3/15/09

For one interview I had, I made a joke starting out that I had no weaknesses, and that I was perfect. The problem was the delivery came out wrong, and he thought I was serious. So I got a bit intimidated from there on out and did poorly the rest of the interview--resulting in a ding.

3/15/09

I remember that questions when I was interviewing. I never ask the question because it is a stupid one. My "biggest weakness" was that I joke more often than I should, my associate laughed and I did go on to get hired. But I wish people would stop that question, it tells us nothing.

In reply to sbmerchant
3/15/09

sbmerchant:
The weakness question is just a bullshit test. If you can give them a decent answer then they will check the box next to "ability to bs when necessary" and move on. If you stumble or can't give an an answer, or say something stupid (like your actual weaknesses) then you fail the test and won't get hired.

The specific answer doesn't matter; they don't expect a truthful answer. Just make sure your delivery is good and it's not an incriminating answer.

I couldn't disagree more. They are not looking for bullshit. I had this question a lot and was truthful and honest, which I think helped me get offers.

I do think it's a terrible question though.

"I am too much of a perfectionist" is the exact answer they don't want. I used a real weakness (actually a big weakness) and just focused on how I have worked to correct it, which I think helped. If you bullshit like everyone else, you won't stand out.

In reply to wookie102
3/15/09

wookie102:
sbmerchant:
The weakness question is just a bullshit test. If you can give them a decent answer then they will check the box next to "ability to bs when necessary" and move on. If you stumble or can't give an an answer, or say something stupid (like your actual weaknesses) then you fail the test and won't get hired.

The specific answer doesn't matter; they don't expect a truthful answer. Just make sure your delivery is good and it's not an incriminating answer.

I couldn't disagree more. They are not looking for bullshit. I had this question a lot and was truthful and honest, which I think helped me get offers.

I do think it's a terrible question though.

"I am too much of a perfectionist" is the exact answer they don't want. I used a real weakness (actually a big weakness) and just focused on how I have worked to correct it, which I think helped. If you bullshit like everyone else, you won't stand out.

It completely depends on what your actual weakness was.

...what did you say?

3/15/09

I hate this question its such a bullshit test. Last thanksgiving we did a mock interview with my grandfather to give him an idea what they are like. He is 81.

Me: What are your strengths?
Him: My hands!

Me: What are your weakness'
Him: Thats for me to know and you not to know!

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

3/15/09

"Thats for me to know and you not to know!"
Could the interviewer actually find this funny if you said it? Or just stupid?

3/15/09

I think they would probably get up and walk out of the interview.

3/16/09

i think a good answer here is "i get down in the weeds sometime and need to work on looking at the bigger picture"

as a junior banker, attention to detail is more important than anything else, so this highlights a strength while calling it a weakness.

In reply to IBnutz
8/13/10

IBnutz:
i think a good answer here is "i get down in the weeds sometime and need to work on looking at the bigger picture"

as a junior banker, attention to detail is more important than anything else, so this highlights a strength while calling it a weakness.

Hi,

I do not agreed with you. Any way, your ideal make me thinking about some thing for my project.

Pls try to keep posting.Tks and best regards

8/13/10

Bad response:

"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our children."

Most people above are right, it's an obligatory, total BS question. Just think of it like the "what would you do if you were crowned Miss America" question: nobody cares about what you actually say as long as you sound good saying it.

In reply to vegetablevn
8/13/10

vegetablevn:
IBnutz:
i think a good answer here is "i get down in the weeds sometime and need to work on looking at the bigger picture"

as a junior banker, attention to detail is more important than anything else, so this highlights a strength while calling it a weakness.

Hi,

I do not agreed with you. Any way, your ideal make me thinking about some thing for my project.

Pls try to keep posting.Tks and best regards

I think this is one of the best responses on the thread. In other words, you are telling the interviewer one of your strengths (attention to detail), while letting he/she know that you have recognized one of your weaknesses, and, you are planning on addressing the "weakness."

8/13/10

i have used 'impatience and/or anxiety with respect to closing the deal'. Good or bad?

8/13/10

I always use "chronic back pain".

You know you've been working too hard when you stop dreaming about bottles of champagne and hordes of naked women, and start dreaming about conditional formatting and circular references.

8/13/10

biggest strength: my biceps

12/12/10
In reply to vegetablevn
8/28/10

vegetablevn:

Hi,

I do not agreed with you. Any way, your ideal make me thinking about some thing for my project.

Pls try to keep posting.Tks and best regards

Apart from that, this link below may be useful: Weakness interview question

12/12/10

I had a guy tell me he slept too much... it was pretty funny... i pushed him along to next round...

12/12/10

Every single time I've used that my hand writing sucks.

12/12/10

Acceptable answers:

Chocolate!

I care just TOO damn much.

Sometimes I have difficulty balancing work life issues and getting out of the office.

Not acceptable answers:

Sometimes when I'm really nervous I pee myself.

If someone makes me really angry I have to hit something.

Fuck you! How's that for a weakness?

12/12/10

Also acceptable: Kryptonite

In reply to Bodhis
12/12/10

Bodhis:
vegetablevn:
IBnutz:
i think a good answer here is "i get down in the weeds sometime and need to work on looking at the bigger picture"

as a junior banker, attention to detail is more important than anything else, so this highlights a strength while calling it a weakness.

Hi,

I do not agreed with you. Any way, your ideal make me thinking about some thing for my project.

Pls try to keep posting.Tks and best regards

I think this is one of the best responses on the thread. In other words, you are telling the interviewer one of your strengths (attention to detail), while letting he/she know that you have recognized one of your weaknesses, and, you are planning on addressing the "weakness."

I would have to agree with this as well... I don't see how they could disagree with you because this is probably the best and safest answer... Look at M&I and it says to give a sincere, yet innocuous weakness, and spend the majority of the answer discussing how you have overcome it.

I used a variant of the "I tend to get to focused on details during a project and because of that I sometimes do not see the big picture. I have outlined this as a potential sticking point, and now I do XYZ in order to ensure that I do not miss the forest for the trees."

I love how the response to your correct and valid answer was "I do not agreed with you. Any way, your ideal make me thinking about some thing for my project." In your case your sincere answer could be language barrier... it wouldn't even be a bullshit response, simply the truth...

In reply to monkeysama
10/15/15

monkeysama:
Also acceptable: Kryptonite

haha, that's an awesome answer. From now on when i'm asking this question that will be the first thing that comes to mind...i doubt i'll have the cajones to say it

10/16/15

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