Along with “tell me about yourself,” this is probably the most hated job interview question. What’s even worse is the wide range of responses that unenlightened non-Fruit Bowl readers answer with. Insha’allah reading this post will get you on the right track.
Here are some ways you SHOULDN’T answer this question:
The Compulsive Truth-Teller:
“Well, you know, punctuality isn’t really my strong point. Actually, that explains why I was late to this interview.”
Verdict: Honesty is always the best policy. But in this case, it’s a policy that’s a deal breaker. You can guarantee that this is one interview you’ll walk out of thinking (correctly) that you’ve wasted your time.
“I’m not sure I have any. Actually, come to think of it, I’m a little too kind and giving sometimes, which can make it difficult to focus on my own objectives. What would you say your weaknesses are?”
Verdict: You’re not exactly ripping yourself to shreds here. At best, the interviewer will think you’re a little conceited, and at worst, think you picked up that line from an episode of The Office (the British one), which is actually where I’ve ripped this example from.
“Previously, organization was a problem, but I’ve worked hard to overcome that difficulty and it’s not really a challenge anymore. In fact, I’d say that it’s more of a strength.”
Verdict: This isn’t actually the worst answer, as you’ll see towards the end. But you haven’t really given the interviewer what they were looking for: a weakness. There are ways, however, to handle this one better.
“Bullets. As well as those strawberry-flavoured chocolates that used to come in tins of Quality Street.”
Verdict: Depending on the formality level of the company and interviewer, this one can work. But it can also backfire badly, as it can make the interviewer think you’re not serious about the interview or your career. But it qualifies as a potentially decent, yet high-risk maneuver. Feel free to use it when you feel like you’ve already messed up the interview, so you can at least walk out laughing.
“My greatest weakness? Sometimes I misplace stuff. I’m a little disorganized. It’s probably a good thing I’m not in charge of my own schedule.”
Verdict: This was Obama’s answer to the same question that he answered back in 2008 as a lowly presidential candidate. It’s genius because he’s running to be President, not an administrative assistant. We don’t expect the President of the United States to be really organized. He doesn’t have to be. It’s also far more honest than “loving America too much” or “caring about little children too much,” which is what some of the other candidates (who shall go unnamed) answered with.
It’s not often when you get to learn a little magic from the President of the United States. And now you have, courtesy of yours truly. Also, check out some more magic from the YouTern team.
Stay classy, Fruit Bowl readers!