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“What is your greatest weakness?” is one of the toughest and most common of all interview questions, and often comes right after you have been tossed that softball, “What’s your greatest strength?” Every conceivable slick answer has already been used a hundred times, so saying you, “Work too hard,” isn’t going to impress anyone.
The truth of the matter is that we all have weaknesses, even you and I, and this is one instance where any interviewer is going to appreciate an honest answer like a breath of fresh air. So your goal is to be honest without torpedoing your candidacy, a tall order, but you can do this: by talking about a real weakness that we all share, even your interviewer and then explaining what you are doing about it.
We all face two very real professional challenges:
- Staying current with the rapid pace of technological change that impacts every job.
- The ever-increasing demands for improved productivity.
Because both of these challenges are constantly changing, getting up to speed, and keeping pace with the new skills that are necessary to do your job well can be recognized as both a challenge and a weakness that we all share.
The technology challenge response
Your answer to the ongoing challenges presented by technological change starts by addressing how constantly evolving technology affects your particular job and profession.
You then follow your statement of the problem with examples that show what you are doing to keep up with the technological changes that affect your productivity:
“I’m currently studying…“
“I just attended a weekend workshop . . .”
“I’m signed up for classes in . . .”
“I just finished reading…”
For example, after addressing the current technological changes affecting your work, you might finish with an example of what you are doing about them, “I’m currently studying Dragon’s advanced voice recognition tools. With its ability to transcribe conversation into text on a Word doc, it improves record keeping and dramatically increases my efficiency in creating follow-up written communications. I’m also learning to use vice commands to control my computing devices, these are very small efficiencies but they add up to something significant. I’m not fully up to speed yet, but I can already see what an asset this weakness into a strength acquisition will be.”
With this type of answer you identify a genuine weakness that anyone can relate to; and in addressing what you are doing about it you demonstrate the kind of effort that is only of concern to the most dedicated and forward-looking people in your profession.
The increasing productivity challenge
You can use the following as an alternative to the above response, or as an additional answer. You start by talking about the general difficulties in keeping up with all the deliverables of the job and then move on to address what you are doing about it: you are working on your multitasking skills.
Used alone or in combination, addressing the technology and multi-tasking challenges everyone must face to stay competitive, and what you are doing to improve in each of these areas, answers the question honestly, while it also shows self-awareness and a commitment to your job and profession, shared only by true professionals.
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