Ask Vicki: Should I answer, “What’s your biggest weakness?” with a humble brag?
In this answer on Quora, Monster career expert Vicki Salemi tells you how to tackle one of the trickiest job interview questions.
Each week, Monster’s career expert Vicki Salemi—a former recruiter who utilizes 15-plus years of experience in recruiting and human resources to empower job seekers—answers user questions on Quora. We’ll be republishing the answers here. If you have a question for Vicki, send it to email@example.com.
Q. In a job interview, should I answer, “What’s your biggest weakness?” with a humble brag?
A. I advise against turning the weakness question into a humble-brag opportunity. Hiring managers don’t want to hear, “Oh, I am a stickler for details! I am militant about being detail-oriented because I want to ensure everything is done properly.”
When I recruited candidates and was given the humble-brag answer, I would reply with, “That’s sounds more like a strength! I want to hear about a weakness. What’s something that’s a true weakness you want to improve upon?”
Don’t be afraid to go there. You can offer something like, “I rely too much on email. A boss recently told me I should lay off on all of the emails I send, and that I should pick up the phone and speak to clients directly. So I’m steering away from constant emails and reaching out to clients over the phone.” Boom.
Note that the weakness question may be disguised as something like this (which is brilliant): “On your last performance review, what’s one area that your boss told you that you need to improve?” You’re not going to say “nothing” because hey, nobody’s perfect, so you’ll need to come up with a real, substantial topic.
I’ve seen plenty of candidates get hired who were frank about sharing a true weaknesses in a job interview. There’s a certain vulnerability around it that can be attractive to employers.
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While it sounds counterproductive to admit to a hiring manager that you have weaknesses, they're expecting you to answer honestly. After all, nobody is perfect! Think of each interview question as an opportunity to show off what makes you an awesome hire. Could you use some help preparing your answers? Join Monster today. As a member, you'll get interview insights, career advice, and job search tips sent directly to your inbox. You'll learn what to say and how to say it so that potential employers walk away with a great impression of you. Let Monster coach you on your way to a great new job!