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5 Answers: What's Your Biggest Weakness?

Everything is going well. You arrived on time, you're making excellent eye contact and you're acing every question that's being thrown at you. You've got this job in the bag, until you hear the interviewer utter, “What’s your biggest weakness?” You know you shouldn't answer too quickly, so you take your time and then suddenly realize you're not sure how to answer. You may be tempted to blurt out, “I have no weaknesses,” and hope to illustrate your confidence in your abilities, but we all know (and your soon-to-be boss will too) that's a lie. Since you can't opt for a pass as you would in a game show, here are five strong techniques to answer the popular interview question, "What's your biggest weakness?"

"I tend to talk too much."

Certainly, this answer is not to give the impression that you prefer to spend half of your day in idle chitchat with your coworkers. Illustrate how, in a world of e-mailing, being able to effectively communicate in person is a huge plus. Additionally, this can flow over into being able to get on the phone and talk with prospective partners or clients -- a skill that employees lack more and more in business today. In group activities, note how your verbal communication skills allow you to quickly convey the message and encourage discussion. In some cases, you may be classified as being too talkative and state that you are aware of that, but this approach gives you confidence that the message is being delivered appropriately. Of course, use this answer in the correct setting. For example, it likely applies more to a communications or sales position than to a number-crunching job.

"I project self-expectations."

This response should communicate that you expect high levels of performance from yourself and those around you. Certainly, you need to communicate that you recognize that each person is different with different skills and levels of ability and that you are not here to make clones of yourself. Specifically, note that you aim to bring the best out of everyone and expect each person on the team to contribute per their responsibilities to make for a successful business effort.

"I get attached to projects."

Typically, being too attached to a project can drive your coworkers crazy and it's never fun to have to be the one to point out the seemingly microscopic details. Certainly the attention to detail might detract more from volume of projects, but sometimes it's getting the last 5% of the job done that makes chances for success skyrocket. When using this response, focus more on how you take a vested interest in having the task done right, rather than just going through the motions. If you are simply a perfectionist, that can have some problems on its own, so be clear that this weakness might actually help you fit in nicely in a fast-paced environment where an extra set of eyeballs is absolutely needed. After all, the best results are usually in the details and every employer can appreciate delivering a project that is free of mistake.

"I assume the leader role when it's not designated to me."

Leadership is most frequently referenced as a good quality, but in the workplace it can often drive your coworkers crazy. We all remember team projects in college; there was always that one person (maybe it was you) running the show, organizing the troops and moving things forward. This same scenario is often replicated in the workplace. Use this answer to communicate your interest in taking on responsibility within the company and illustrating your desire to get the job done. You should also comment that, despite your energetic attitude to push the ball over the goal line, you are sensitive to your coworkers and never intend to come off as a tyrant.

"I'm a workaholic."

When using this answer, be careful not to put too high expectations on yourself. You don't want to give the impression that all you do is put in a bunch of time at the office. Note that your workaholic nature is more akin to always thinking in terms of the business and to keeping your mind open to related business issues, even on the weekend. For example, rather than saying you come in every Saturday and Sunday, allude to how you may take note of an idea during a leisurely web-surfing session on a weekend morning. The purpose of this answer is not to show you are a one-dimensional office dweller, but that you take your job seriously and recognize that it takes more than just putting in your nine-to-five time to drive success and results.

THE RIGHT QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

The "What is your biggest weakness?" question is a stock question in the interview processes. Generally speaking, when noting a weakness it should be a small, nominal item and relevant to the workplace. Certainly, be honest, as it could come back to you later in your career. For example, if you note being too talkative as your weakness, but hardly say a word once you have landed the job or during the interview, it could impact your credibility. Most importantly, when you're provided the opportunity to answer this question, be confident and try to make a professional, memorable impression to set yourself apart from the other candidates, because that's really what it's all about.

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