When someone tries to answer the interview question, what are your weaknesses, it is followed by stumbling, fumbling and mumbling to an answer which is totally devoid of authenticity.  They might as well stand up and announce that they are simply not prepared for the interview; they are winging it.  

iStock_000000363540XSmallThink about interviews and the questions you get often, and what are your weaknesses is one of the surefire certainties, a truth-teller question that is usually asked.  Saying that you work too much, while possibly a truth, comes across as a phony baloney diversion, perhaps for a troublesome issue the candidate may not want to address.  

More often than not, the truth lies in whatever answer the candidate gave to the question, What are your strengths?

For most executives, their weaknesses are a mirror of their strengths.  There is no perfect leader; everyone is flawed in some way.  

Here are some possibilities:

  • Confident: cocky, smug, glib
  • Candid: indiscreet 
  • Decisive: acts too quickly
  • Demanding: bullying
  • Detail focused: micromanager or insecure
  • Hands-off: not engaged
  • Flexible: indecisive
  • Low profile: aloof

My colleague, Nancy Swain, one of the premier healthcare career coaches, has her candidates ready for this and other challenging questions.  She knows there are ways to flip the negative to a positive.  That type of answer requires some thought and preparation – rehearsal – and the vast majority of candidates who show up for the initial face-to-face interview, are usually not prepared.  Really.  

There are serial offenders – candidates who have been out of work on multiple occasions – who make the same interview mistakes repeatedly.  And they are confused because they are still out of work.