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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 (145)

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.

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

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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

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
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
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

Someone posted it on here a while ago but my favorite one was when asking a kid from Rutgers what his biggest weakness is and he answered, "Going to Rutgers".

10/16/15

Don't answer with a fake weakness (e.g. "I work too hard") or some terrible weakness (e.g. "I hate accounting"). Both are instant dings. Use this answer to show that you can improve on something. A great answer would be something that explains weakness that you've had (e.g. public speaking, writing papers, etc.) and how you've improved on it so that the weakness is now just a minor problem.

10/16/15

As an interviewer, I despise hearing answers like "I'm a perfectionist" or "I over-work myself". That is garbage. I agree with the other posters saying you should name a fairly legit weakness, and explain how you are improving yourself. Do not listen to the posters saying they want to see how good you are at bsing, that is idiotic.

10/16/15

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.

10/16/15

bump. anyone else get this question before?

10/16/15

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.

10/16/15

i got that question -- it was miserable

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10/16/15

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

10/16/15

Anyone have good answers to this question?

In reply to Mzz
10/16/15
Mez:

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

10/16/15

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.

10/16/15

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.

10/16/15

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.

10/16/15

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?

10/16/15

Hate this question. Always fuck it up. Just can't bullshit my way through it without cracking up.

10/16/15

For those without formal IB experience, I think banker88 hit the nail on the head.

10/16/15

Guys, I was recently asked the same question in an interview. One of the answer I gave that I am a bit outspoken. I don't fear expressing myself in meetings. Some senior folks don't like this behavior but some others do. I am trying to improve by putting me in different scenarios to understand how would I react if I had been at the senior position. Just wondering whether I did right thing?

10/16/15

Best answers are along the lines of "I'm a perfectionist", sometimes I'm too invested in my work, and sometimes I have a difficult time leaving the office are great ways to turn "weaknesses" into strengths!

10/16/15

i disagree ricochet ... they are very cliche answers in my experience, and are often perceived as untruthful. i agree with morris' approach of simply telling the truth ... just dont talk about the time you banged the secretary at your internship or anything

10/16/15

How about "the inability to say no"

10/16/15

also disagree with ricochet, unless you are able to go about it more delicately and be more specific / genuine than leading with the line "I'm a perfectionist" - perhaps something closer to "I sometimes get too bogged down by minor details and fail to see the big picture - this can be useful at times when attention to detail is needed, but it can and HAS also cost me a lot of time and efficiency when I have multiple deadlines to hit..."

10/16/15

not good ... they could look at that and say "well, theres someone who might do something unethical" ... think about this from their perspective guys, these people are humans too, and even have faults of their own. tell them a fault that isnt terrible, and segue that into how you have improved in that area, and you will do awesome

10/16/15

how about women?

10/16/15

Yeah ricochetX is a troll guys...

10/16/15

lmao i wish wish wish i wasn't working yet so i could say "women"

---------------------------
BossMode

10/16/15

Disregard the website advertisement in this:

"If you can count your money, you don't have a billion dollars." - J. Paul Getty

10/16/15

One of my friends was recently asked his top 3 weaknesses during an interview at a bulge bracket bank. The MD said his first 3 weaknesses were actually strengths, so he asked for 3 more. The jerk MD had him keep going until he was satisfied (it took my friend 12 attempts). He didn't get invited back for the next round, although I do think he wanted to.

10/16/15

Be honest; "overly focused on detail" is a cop out. One that I heard recently that I liked was a gentlemen who said that he needed to spend an hour out of his day, no matter how busy he was, at the gym to clear his mind.

10/16/15

Some decent ones I've used (that are true):

"They say a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. Sometimes I have an issue with a build up of paper, water bottles and diet coke on my desk. But I guess it really doesn't affect my work too much."

"Sometimes I want to go above and beyond my job tasks, but I've found out that often times employers and bosses just want you to do what you were hired to do."

I also got the one where the interviewer happened to be friends with a former boss of mine that happened to lay me off 2 1/2 years prior. I was asked, "If I were to call [boss' name], what would he say about you?" I responded, "He'd say I was a hard worker. But ya know, unlike how you and I have innate interpersonal chemistry, he and I never had that chemistry. It was always awkward in the elevator or kitchen or office with him." The interviewer responded that he understood, that the guy was hard to get to know.

10/16/15

I can't post video???

10/16/15

Biggest wkness is for suuuuure my weiner, just waaaay too big - hard to find pants that fit.

One actual way to do this question well is to take a psychometric test that identifies your relative strengths and weaknesses, or talk with a mentor who can give you honest feedback - if you say "I actually took a test to find out my weak areas - the test said x y z, and I would tend to agree with that, so here are the steps I've taken to improve that."

People tend to be poor at self-assessment - taking the time to take a test or have a tough conversation about your weaknesses shows maturity, initiative, and a sincere desire to develop and grow.

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

10/16/15

Is everything now in italics for other ppl too or is it just my browser?

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it

10/16/15

You can either go the BS answer of: Im too much of a perfectionist, I work too hard, I expect too much of myself etc.

Or other interviewers want a real biggest weakness and then you should pick a real weakness and show how you are bettering yourself with it.

This is answered really well in the behavioral guide, you should get it.

10/16/15

my biggest weakness is my huge 9 in. cock.

In reply to PIE
10/16/15
Short:

You can either go the BS answer of: Im too much of a perfectionist, I work too hard, I expect too much of myself etc.

Or other interviewers want a real biggest weakness and then you should pick a real weakness and show how you are bettering yourself with it.

This is answered really well in the behavioral guide, you should get it.

I have it.

10/16/15

most HR/ hiring managers know the bs answers like "i work too hard..." and don't look highly on those answers. It's best to give a true weakness or area in which you are working on and show how you are trying to improve yourself. However, it's important not to tell a weakness that may directly affect your qualifications for the job.

For example, it probably wouldn't be best to mention your weakness is your attention to detail or computer skills when applying for an analyst position. However, it might be better to mention that you are trying to improve your public speaking skills and have been taking speech and debate classes or trying to expose yourself to more public speaking engagements that force you to get better. Hope this helps.

10/16/15

"My biggest weakness is answering retarded interview questions"

10/16/15

I said, "my benchpress is kind of weak, but I am working on it," once. True story.

10/16/15

Of say your biggest weakness is that you just don't have the real world experience of a first year after 6 months. SO you feel you'll be behind out of the gate, so you really want to get going. Not sure on this one?

10/16/15
  • eyelikecheese
  •  10/16/15

That is the gayest question known to interviewing. Just be honest, and focus on something that is a true weakness for you. A great bs is always a good thing, but tailor it specifically to your experiences or your personality. I would argue against using the typical ones, such as: I am too much of a perfectionist, I work to hard blah blah. People can see right through those are being total bs and write you off for having no creativity.

10/16/15

I've had this question asked before. My answer was that I'm sometimes too stubborn and don't give in to others' opinions/ideas. But it's not always been a bad thing (I have a story where it turned out very beneficial to be slightly stubborn), but I'm also much more open now and more willing to work with others to accomplish some end goal. I've gotten good responses from this one.

10/16/15

I once said my 6.5"/4.5" penis is too small. True story.

10/16/15

"I struggle with subject/verb agreement and pluralization" should come up a lot more.

10/16/15
10/16/15

Sometimes get too intimate with the detail, need to ensure always have big picture mind.

From the ghetto....

10/16/15

i used the perfectionist approach and the interviewer ate that shit up

10/16/15

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