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“What’s Your Greatest Weakness”


At the Dem Nevada debate tonight, one of the world’s dumbest interview questions was asked: What’s your greatest weakness? Stephen has the rundown in the Corner:

John Edwards: My greatest weakness is that I care too much, Tim. For 54 years, I’ve been fighting. I emerged from the womb with my dukes up, ready to do battle with every fiber of my day-old being.

Hillary Clinton: My greatest weakness is that I get impatient — impatient with people who don’t care as much about children as I do.

Barack Obama: 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.

Conventional wisdom is going to be that Obama lost this exchange, even though he’s the only one who offered an answer that wasn’t transparently b.s.

I Googled “interview question greatest weakness” and this, was one of the first hits on how to answer this question:

“What is your greatest weakness?”

Be careful with this one. Most interview guides will tell you to answer it with a positive trait disguised as a weakness. For example, “I tend to expect others to work as hard as I do,” or “I’m a bit of a perfectionist.” Interviewers have heard these “canned” answers over and over again. To stand out, be more original and state a true weakness, but then emphasize what you’ve done to overcome it. For example: “I’ve had trouble delegating duties to others because I felt I could do things better myself. This has sometimes backfired because I’d end up with more than I could handle and the quality of my work would suffer. But I’ve taken courses in time management and learned effective delegation techniques, and I feel I’ve overcome this weakness.”

“I care too much.” “I move too fast to make change.” “I’m too absorbed in making things work to keep track of the little things.”

Or…three interview answers that are cookie-cutter answers that would NEVER make it in the real world, but for some odd reason, are OK while interviewing for the most powerful job in the world.


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