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The hideous "what is your biggest weakness" question. What do you answer and would this be a bad answer?

(15 Posts)
HarryPottersMagicWand Tue 10-Jan-17 22:15:55

I am applying for jobs. What fits my needs are few and far between so who knows but I am trying to prepare.

Do they always ask this question?

What do you answer?

At the moment I'd say mine is confidence in myself after being out of work even though I know I would be more than capable of doing the job (admin roles). Would this be a bad answer and make them think negatively about me? I have to address the fact I have been out of work as it's obvious from my CV and covering letters are addressing the reasons for this (illness and children) and as I have a disability I hope that they are more understanding rather than dismissing my application/CV based on my sporadic employment history.

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SpunBodgeSquarepants Tue 10-Jan-17 22:21:29

I hate this question. The trick is to pick an answer that could be a positive as well as a negative.
So something like 'I would say my main weakness is my inability ask for help with my workload as I like to organise myself and my tasks in a certain way'.
I'm sure there are better examples but can't think of one at the moment! I hope you know what I mean though.

Dyrne Tue 10-Jan-17 22:39:55

I would steer away from your example as it sounds a bit negative. I tend to answer these questions to show I have self awareness and am already addressing any issues. "I sometimes struggle with X; however I have recently been working on this, and have found by doing Y and Z I am finding task X much easier"; Maybe you could say something like "I was worried about my computer skills being rusty after a period of time out of work; however I have recently been practising/have done an online course/whatever which has helped me bring myself up to speed"

topcat2014 Tue 10-Jan-17 22:46:16

My advice is to pick something you don't expect to have to do in your job - but sounds good:

eg - I need a little more experience in boardroom presentations.

On no account say something like "my weakness is I am a perfectionist".

These days, this type of question is falling out of favour - being replaced by competency based questions.

HarryPottersMagicWand Tue 10-Jan-17 22:47:55

I did wonder if it was a bit too negative.

I've just looked up and didnt even consider an online course in Excel etc! Found a website that will teach me it for free. I can do some basic stuff that I have taught myself but as a lot of admin jobs say they want you to be proficient in it, this will be really helpful.

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MilkTwoSugarsThanks Tue 10-Jan-17 22:50:43


Yep. I was asked this and I answered "biscuits". It made them laugh and I got the job! Although tbh it was quite an informal kind of setting anyway and I took a gamble with it.

It still makes me chuckle now!

Good luck with it OP. biscuit

HarryPottersMagicWand Tue 10-Jan-17 22:51:40

I hope it is. Its a stupid question.

Today I applied for a few jobs. 2 had me doing an online test to see if I fit. The questions were utterly stupid for one and I didn't pass therefore I couldn't apply! There were 3 groups of 3 statements and you had to choose out of each group which statement was most like you and which was least. There was no middle ground and some didn't fit at all. I had to choose just because you couldn't progress. Hope I don't get many of those. Thankfully the other one was fine.

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Dyrne Tue 10-Jan-17 22:51:45

Yep there's a lot of free/cheap online courses out there. They tend to want to charge you for a certificate but it's a useful thing to do and be able to mention in an interview smile Good luck with the job hunt!

HarryPottersMagicWand Tue 10-Jan-17 22:52:36

Ha ha, loving the biscuits. Not sure I'd have the balls for that one. grin

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GTS Tue 10-Jan-17 22:57:24

Agree with pp about an answer than can be a positive also, such as need to delegate tasks to other people more, better at speaking to small groups of people rather than public speaking etc. I would swerve lacking confidence as an answer to be honest, as it's typically quite an integral part of a lot of jobs.

Trinpy Tue 10-Jan-17 23:02:40

Check the person specification carefully and make sure whatever your 'weakness' is isn't an essential quality for the job. Give an example of how it caused a problem in work (nothing too bad though!) and how you have been working to resolve it and how you plan to continue improving on that. Sometimes they ask what your greatest strengths are instead, which is a lot less confusing!

The main feedback I got from the last interview I went to was don't forget to sell yourself. I tend to give really short, to the point answers because I worry I'll ramble on and bore everyone, but apparently they like it if you back up your points with examples and give a more in depth answer. Remember to think up some good questions to ask at the end too.

Good luck.

Didactylos Tue 10-Jan-17 23:02:46

Ive always wanted to say 'flippancy in the face of being asked fucking dumb questions' as an answer to that one but have so far resisted

biscuits might be a better reply

ClaudiaWankleman Tue 10-Jan-17 23:05:07

In my most recent interview (got the job!) I said 'my biggest weakness is not going to the gym often enough. I would love to work out four times a week but I have to juggle work and other commitments and prioritise and it doesn't always make it to the top of the list. It's something that I have set myself as a long term goal rather than an immediate one'

You don't have to talk about work in every question - sometimes it's good to show yourself as a real life person too IMO.

BagelGoesWalking Tue 10-Jan-17 23:14:05

That's a good answer (and the reason for it), Claudia.

I thought about this recently as I've been looking at jobs more seriously again and have gaps in my cv. I thought about saying that my weakness would be saying yes too often, even if not within my job description, which then leads to pressure to fulfil all the tasks. Don't know if that's good or bad! I like the biscuits answer!

I do remember saying how having a small child (1 at the time) made me great at time management, dealing with pressure and multi tasking! Ooof, I hate job interviews, I wish you could just say, look, I'm 50, I can do this, just let me get on with it.

Good luck OP

HarryPottersMagicWand Wed 11-Jan-17 11:56:08

Didactylos yes that would be a great answer! Can't see it leading to a job somehow grin.

I asked DH as he interviewed some people recently and he didn't ask that although he said it was on the list on questions. He asked what are your biggest strengths which I think is much better. He said him and another manager don't bother with references either which surprised me. Is that common?

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