Interview Question: What Are Your Two Greatest Weaknesses?

APRIL 29, 2011 | BY MICAH

Now you’ve done it. We’ve discussed “greatest weaknesses” in the past. Thanks to the Internet, most people now say “My greatest weakness is that I’m a perfectionist. I work too hard…” That answer blows. Really, it’s just awful. It’s become so overused that it’s a cliché, and most interviewers are going to roll your eyes if you try to pull that off.

Thanks to people trying to pull off the “perfectionist” answer, hiring managers have gotten smarter. Now, rather than ask what your one biggest weakness is, they want you to give two, so if you want to BS your way with the “perfectionist” answer, you are still forced to come up with another one on the fly.

How to Answer

The “perfectionist” answer is terrible. Don’t use it. Instead, try to focus on flaws that are barely flaws. Some examples are:

  • You do not speak up in meetings.
  • You try to get work done quickly.
  • You often forget names (if this won’t affect your work)

These are real weaknesses, so the interviewer is going to be listening to your answer without rolling their eyes, but they are not very bad, and, as always, you follow them up with what you are doing to change it.

Bad Answer

“My biggest weakness is that I am a perfectionist. I put so much effort into my work that it can feel consuming. I need to learn to relax. Also, I’d say my second weakness is that I make terrible interview answers. I often think that I am being clever by using ‘perfectionist’ as a greatest weakness but the reality is I’m being lame and clichéd.”

Good Answer

“My biggest weakness is that I tend to not speak up at large meetings when I feel I have a great idea. I have been working on sharing more freely at company meetings. I also often find myself working quickly, and while I have yet to make any mistakes, I am starting to slow down in order to ensure perfection.”

There you go. Weaknesses that are really weaknesses but also not really that bad. That’s a good answer, and one that the interviewer is far more likely to respect. Dear “Perfectionist” people: Stop ruining it for the rest of us.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • If you were really a perfectionist, you would know why that answer sucks.

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