Suppose someone gets interviewed for a Java developer position and the interviewer asks him or her, "What is your greatest weakness?" How can the job candidate answer this question without throwing a red flag? How does one talk about his greatest weakness and at the same time put his best foot forward? What kind of weaknesses will not prevent a Java developer from getting hired?
The greatest weakness of all is, of course, not thinking you have any weaknesses.
The next greatest weakness (in an interview) is not being able to answer such a question. It is after all a very common interview question.
You need to think of something which is true and shows you have thought of the problem. If you have a coping strategy you should mention that too.
For me: impatience with stupid interview questions.
I know that there are those that would disagree with me, but I hate this question when I get it, and I will not ask it of interviewees. It just makes people come up with some disingenuous answer that takes a strength, or "growth opportunity", and spin it as a so-called "weakness".
But as this does seem to be a annoyingly popular question, you need to have an answer ready. I don't have a pat answer for you; it all depends upon your own personal and job history.
I could say that I get annoyed if somebody takes work which I had thought of as mine.
But I have lots of other weaknesses. I can see how that question would annoy you, Bear, but I can also understand the interviewer who wants confirmation that the candidate has thought about their weaknesses.
posted 5 years ago
Knowing whether the candidate is telling the truth or bullshitting is another skill
I get why Bear is frustrated with questions like this, and I agree with him. However, the purpose of questions such as this are to find the self proclaimed "Rock Stars" who are "Awesome at everything", which is a dangerous mix of confidence and incompetence. These guys, in all likelihood, will barrel into your team and cause havoc all around them.
You need to spot this type of person before you hire them. They're poison.
I'm with Bear. I never ask this question when I interview people either. Since I'm hiring technical people, I let their technical skills do the talking during the audition. They will also tend to show their true colors as I'm collaborating with them and asking them tough questions about their coding and design decisions.
I can just imagine answering the way Bear suggested though. Then, when the interviewer gets offended or flustered, I'd follow up with "My other big weakness is that I tend to speak without a filter. Sorry about that just now."
The best ideas are the crazy ones. If you have a crazy idea and it works, it's really valuable.—Kent Beck
Agree with Bear, but when you have no control over stopping these kind of questions getting asked, you might as well prepare to answer this question well. Any good interview book or site should have tips on how to answer this question.
Technical weakness (eg not knowing how to do something) can be learned/practiced on the job or spare time.
Soft-skill (eg communication or leadership) weakness usually comes about when you are not confident to take on the challenge (leadership) or scared you say something wrong to your superiors in a meeting (communication). Yet not having the opportunity to do such and such ... you are really telling your interviewer you dislike your previous colleagues in some way.
K. Tsang CEng MBCS PMP PMI-ACP OCPJEA OCPJP
posted 5 years ago
When you mention a weakness, make it a point to add as to how you are going about fixing your or improving your weakness.
-- I regularly assess my skills, and recently identified that I don't have much knowledge or experience on scripting languages like Perl or Python. Hence, I have recently started working some Python tutorials.
In some cases a weakness can be construed as a strength
-- When there is a pressing problem, I tend to keep at it for a long time until I each a resolution. This gets me into looking more within the square. Even though I know that taking a break from the issue or chatting to a colleague is more conducive to looking outside the square.
I am on my third reading of 'Interview Intervention'. Thank you for making it very clear that we have choices, that our occupation/career trajectory is not cast in stone. How we communicate is all the difference.
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