A common interview question candidates expect and often prepare for is: "What's your greatest weakness?"

"My biggest weakness is that I'm a perfectionist and I always want everything to be perfect and sometimes it'll take me too long to finish something." Or "My biggest weakness is that I'll work too hard on something and stay until midnight to finish it."

Any intelligent hiring manager will see straight through this. They want candidates who are real, vulnerable and introspective.

Give a real weakness and rate yourself on a task. It could be time management, business writing or analytical skills. Say, I made a list of my skills and ranked what I'm best at and the bottom three were A, B & C, and I think these are areas I can really improve on. I don't think I'm terrible at them, but I think they're my weaknesses.

Remember, a weakness doesn't mean you stink, it means it's something that's not a strength. There's a big difference.

Or you can say, let me tell you about a time I screwed up on a project and what I did to fix it. It could be a time you negotiated poorly and lost a deal; a time you didn't allocate enough time before a big presentation, and while it went well, it definitely could have gone better. If you're in management, you can share experiences you had as a new manager and how you learned from those.

What I like to hear in candidate's responses is how they're currently working with their manager and HR team to get better...that it's on their improvement plan and steps have been taken to improve in that capacity.

Another example on how to respond:

I know you asked what my weaknesses are, but let me tell you a strength and how a weakness exists within that. My strength is that I will hit any deadline without a doubt. However, in doing so, I really remove myself from the people aspect of the business for a week or a month, and I'm not as personable with my team and my coworkers as I should be because of the emphasis of hitting the deadline.

So, at managing the project, I would grade myself high at an 8 or 9, but from the aspect of communicating progress to my team, I'd give myself a 5. What I'm working on currently with my manager is sending weekly recaps to my team of where I'm at on the project.

It's more of the explanation and the humility. Take time to think through examples and situations so you can prepare a solid response to this question.

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