Don’t Ask and Don’t Answer: “What’s Your Greatest Weakness” Question

By on February 19, 2014

My Greatest Weakness? Cocktails!

The question “What’s your greatest weakness” begs the advice, Companies: Don’t Ask and Job Seekers: Don’t Answer. This question should be about as popular as calling executive assistants “secretaries”, but for some reason we still aren’t there yet. Here are better questions to ask a potential new hire:

  • Here, we value transparency.  How do you feel about being transparent in your current position?  Any good examples  in which you had to be uncomfortably transparent?  Choose a company value and see if the potential new hire shares your values.  This is an important cultural question to find out if they abide by the same compass that the rest of your team does.
  • If you had to summarize your life’s purpose into a slogan what would it be and why?  Lots of people have a general idea of their purpose in life.  Find out if their purpose is in the same ballpark as your company’s.  Does their passion for their purpose inspire you?  You could also use this question in lieu of the super hero question, as that’s another question that proves to be worthless.
  • Who are your idols or influencers in your chosen field?  What’s a great article or book you read recently?  This is a great way to highlight strengths and a person’s willingness to seek new information in a field they are passionate about.

Job Seekers Answer to “What’s Your Greatest Weakness” Question

  • Don’t answer it.  It’s a corporate culture red flag if the company feels this is a relevant question.  Weaknesses are simply things you don’t have a preference for doing like taking out the trash.  Tell them anything that you are passionate about you become an expert on it.  Things you don’t like doing, get done, but you’re a cocktail glass half full person and focus on amplifying your strengths.  The trash will get taken out.
  • Hit them with a quote.  “Everybody is a genius.   But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Make a joke out of this outdated question.  Bad 80’s music videos, memes, Vine videos that involve “Just Girly Things” whatever.  Make them laugh at the absurdity of their own question.

When someone asks you about your greatest weakness, there are so many articles giving canned responses telling candidates if they don’t fess up to what they suck at in life, they could hinder their chances of getting the job.  Guess what?  Their loss.  Plenty of better companies out there that need you to shake what your mama gave ya.  If you can’t find the perfect company for you, consider starting your own.  My greatest weakness?  Cocktails!  What’s yours?  Holla!


About HR Chick

I'm obsessed with Corporate Culture, Jobs and HR Tech. I've been featured in Forbes and Mashable. I am available for HR related consulting, job coaching and speaking engagements. Follow @HRCultureClub on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, and Vine. Email: [email protected]


  1. Michael Heller

    February 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

    So, I’ll probably get skewered for saying this, but I do (and will continue to) ask a variation of this question: tell me about a time you’ve failed.
    I always follow the question up with something like: “I don’t want to point out your failures, or understand what you’re weaknesses are. What is important to me, and my organization, is how you recover from a stumble. With this being said, fire away.”
    Everyone has a misstep. These mistakes aren’t what defines what we can provide of value to our employers. However, understanding how they handle a screw up and what the end result was is extremely valuable and should be to anyone in a hiring position.

  2. HR Chick

    February 19, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Agreed! That’s awesome and you are right, so much can be learned by how some handles missteps. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, cheers!