Greatest weakness is baloney or bacon or actually a thoughtful answer July 20, 2012 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Someone once posted a link to or description of a good response to 'what's your greatest weakness' that remained polite while pointing out to the interviewer that it is maybe not a great question.

I'm dying to read it again, but my Internet searching on the phone is killing me.

Don't worry, I just had an interview, and it didn't come up. Please don't offer fresh advice on how bad an idea using this answer is, or how to answer this or any other interview question, as I got an invite back for a 'tryout interview' Monday :)

I always plan to answer it truthfully with "My conpetitive public speaking background allows me to be very careful about going on and on about a topic. Having to fill 7 whole minutes with an extemporaneous exploration of bizarre topics like 'kumquats' 3 times a day made everything feel like an opportunity to practice. And win. What I still remind myself is, I don't have to fill 7 minutes of dead air, and most people don't care how much I know about the history of ballpoint pens."
posted by tulip-socks to MetaFilter-Related at 10:25 AM (18 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Well, it's probably NOT my answer in this thread, but maybe it is in the thread elsewhere?
posted by Grither at 10:45 AM on July 20, 2012

"Probably my unwillingness to answer stupid questions." You can use the ensuing uncomfortable silence to think about your salary requirements.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 12:13 PM on July 20, 2012 [13 favorites]

I've never been asked that. But if I was, here's how I'd respond:

I won't answer that question because it isn't fair. You're asking me to tell you a reason why you shouldn't hire me. But I want you to hire me, so I have a conflict of interest.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:49 PM on July 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

There was an entire AskMe about how to answer the "your greatest weakness" question, so if it's not in Grither's thread, you (or someone whose lunch break isn't about to end) could look for that.
posted by salvia at 12:50 PM on July 20, 2012

Ah, here is the greatest weakness question.
posted by salvia at 12:51 PM on July 20, 2012

And here's another.
posted by salvia at 12:57 PM on July 20, 2012

Not completely relevant, but I'm telling the story anyway. When I was in 8th grade, I had a high school interview at a certain "highly selective" private school. Unlike other schools in the area, this school didn't really want to be bothered to interview all their applicants, but it would look pretty lame to evaluate a bunch of middle schoolers just on paper, so they made most of the faculty come in on a Saturday and held a giant interview day to do them all at once. Except this was still too inconvenient for them, so they did the interviews in pairs with two students and a teacher.

In order to make the whole thing seem less threatening or something, the procedure was that the interviewer would ask a question, each student would answer for a minute or two, and then the teacher would answer the question him/herself, as if we cared. This mainly served to waste what little time we actually had. It's entirely possible that we actually picked some of the questions at random out of a hat, but I may be misremembering this detail.

Anyway, I come out of this preposterous interview pretty upset. The whole thing was filled with questions like "If today were your last day on earth, what would you do?" Since I actually wanted to talk about my interests and experiences, I was having a pretty hard time figuring out how to answer this nonsense. What was I supposed to say? "First I'd go home and spend some time looking at my award winning science fair project?" Was this really just a screening tool to weed out (or perhaps recruit) sociopaths? Meanwhile, my co-interviewee had about all the personality of a machine-formed cinderblock, which made it pretty difficult for me to toot my own horn without being obnoxious and engaging in a game of one-upmanship.

Not surprisingly, I choose not to attend this school. As for whether my co-interviewee was ever accepted, I do not know.
posted by zachlipton at 1:14 PM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

A good answer: "I'm a workaholic who will put his job ahead of his family and his health"
posted by Renoroc at 3:35 PM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I actually once answered this question honestly for a job I rather wanted. It was a highly detail-oriented job, and i was honest that details were my kryptonite but that I would try to do my best. I got hired anyway.

My secred-good-point answer was that I was too persistent, so sometimes annoyed people by following up on things.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:14 PM on July 20, 2012

Crappers. The job turns out to be an MLM scheme where you go demonstrate car wax at Home Depot.
posted by tulip-socks at 5:05 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

MetaFilter: an MLM scheme where you go demonstrate car wax at Home Depot
posted by zachlipton at 5:13 PM on July 20, 2012

I don't think it's my response, but here it is anyway just in case it is. At the very least another weakness interview question thread, so your answer might be there.
posted by anitanita at 12:55 AM on July 22, 2012

posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 9:30 AM on July 22, 2012

posted by roboton666 at 10:26 AM on July 22, 2012

My favorite non answer to that question is "Bullets."
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:45 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

"I'm a workaholic who will put his job ahead of his family and his health"

I wouldn't hire this person, and if I was interviewing for any job whatsoever, I wouldn't want to work for a boss who would hire this person.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:13 AM on July 23, 2012

Crappers. The job turns out to be an MLM scheme where you go demonstrate car wax at Home Depot.

Oh, tulip-socks, that sucks. I'm sorry. There should be a special circle of hell for MLM shillers who dress up their "opportunity" spiels as job interviews.
posted by bakerina at 12:04 PM on July 23, 2012

I agree. They called this morning ten minutes after I was supposed to go 'observe' and since I knew I couldn't be polite on the phone I just didn't answer.


I've since gotten at least a dozen more MLM responses to my resume that's online, in addition to the 'download this toolbar' or 'get a free credit report so we know we can trust you (but don't worry if your score sucks!)' phishing scams.

Which is why you should never job search with an email you want to remain spam free.
posted by tulip-socks at 5:02 PM on July 23, 2012

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