“Great, thank you. Now, what do you consider to be your greatest weakness?”
One of the most infamous behavioral interview questions that can make any qualified candidate weak in the knees. The two important aspects of approaching this question are how long you should take to answer it and what you should say.
Now, you may think that length of your response does not matter as long as you say the “right thing,” but it does. For example, interviewers are trained and know that candidates prepare for their interviews. If you do not take a long enough pause to think after they ask a difficult question, such as the weakness question, they may think that you took a common answer off the Internet. Even if you did do that, you do not want them to know. Therefore, take a slight pause and then slowly begin to answer the question. You want it to sound thought-out but not practiced.
So what is the “right thing” to say? Interviewers know that, like every other person in the world, you have many weaknesses to choose from. They want to see which one you will choose to highlight and tell them about. The question is a time for you to be vulnerable as a candidate. The absolute best answer would be something that the interviewer can relate to, so definitely use information from earlier in the interview to your advantage. For example, if interviewers ever make jokes about “time getting away from them,” perhaps say that your greatest weakness is not spreading your workload out or doing work sporadically. If there are no hints found from prior in the interview, answering the question becomes a little harder.
Answering the question without any clue of what the interviewer wants to hear is more difficult, but a good time to practice shielded honesty. You do not want to give an answer that is not a weakness for a job, such as “I actually work too hard” or “I spend too much of my time on work,” and you don’t want to answer something that is not a weakness of yours, just because it sounds good! Real, watered-down weaknesses that you as an individual have are the way to go. I would make a list of things that you are not good at and practice making them sound less bad. Then, you will have several good answers for different instances. This is important, because, for jobs with very strict deadlines, you do not want to name yourself as unorganized.
If you cannot think of your weaknesses, you can always start the answer by saying you are lacking experience in something and expand on that.
And if all of that does not help, just say “Kryptonite”!