Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business

The Worst Interview Question (And How to Answer It)

"What is your greatest weakness?" is probably the most dreaded interview question. Nobody's perfect, but the last place you'd want to talk about your faults is in a job interview. If you're on the hunt for a new job, be prepared for this dreaded...

by Katia Caporiccio

"What is your greatest weakness?" is probably the most loathed job interview question. Nobody's perfect, but the last place you'd want to talk about your faults is in a job interview. Though it might seem like a harsh question, the interviewer isn't trying to make you feel uncomfortable or put you on the spot. He/she is likely trying to gauge how you perform under pressure.

If you're on the hunt for new employment, be prepared for this dreaded question and learn how to talk about your weaknesses with the following tips from Priscilla Claman with the Harvard Business Review.

1. Prepare an answer. Make it brief and honest. Example:

  • My biggest weakness is that while I'm great at advocating for something I believe in, I find it uncomfortable to talk about myself.

Another approach is to list a weakness you've already overcome. This shows the interviewer that you recognize the weakness and are willing to take the necessary steps to improve. Example:

  • I get quite nervous when speaking in front of large groups of people, but I have slowly overcome this by practicing and trying multiple times until it wasn't such a big deal anymore.

2. Get input. Run your answer by a couple of critical friends or colleagues to make sure it sounds reasonable.

3. Ask a question back. In the interview, deflect the attention away from you by ending your response with a question for the interviewer. Example:

I set very high standards for myself and those around me and can sometimes become impatient with those who do not set similar standards for themselves. Do you feel that way sometimes?