What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

As a recent alumnus of the job market, I can personally attest to the fact that while there is a shortage of available jobs, there is apparently no shortage of inane interview questions:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

If you were an animal (vegetable, mineral, superhero, whatever), what kind would you be?

What would your last employer say about you?

If you were the size of a pencil and we put you in a blender, how would you escape?

But my least favorite of all time has to be: What is your greatest weakness?

Hunting for my first job, I must have answered that question a dozen times – never honestly. My top three answers, depending on the situation, were:

  1. I am so driven to succeed, sometimes I work too hard.
  2. I have a habit of doing all the work and giving my boss all the credit.
  3. I possess the agility of a spider and the strength of six men, but I struggle to harness it for the purposes of good.


And I’m not alone. A quick Google search yields thousands of blogs, how-to articles and even entire websites devoted to avoiding an honest answer to this dreaded question.

So it was a nice surprise when before I interviewed here at Hogan (I am now two weeks on the job), I was asked to complete the full line of our assessments.

For me as a job candidate, the fact that my then potential employer would know, and have a graphical analysis of, my greatest strengths and potential shortcomings meant two things: there was no need to dodge the question, and they were still taking the time to interview me, so I must not be so far beyond help. What resulted was a fluid, comfortable interview in which, instead of wasting time and energy beating around the bush and trying to conceal my flop sweat, I could relax and express what I thought I could bring to the table.

Granted, I am new to the world of HR, but that seems much more productive than trying to explain that while I possess psychic abilities, they are only good for predicting the first two Lotto numbers.