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The stupidest job interview question

You might not want to answer it truthfully.

By Karen Datko Sep 30, 2009 9:02PM

There's an all-too-common job interview question that "FMF" at Free Money Finance finds stupid and useless: "What is your biggest weakness?"

Seriously, are you going to answer that one honestly? "I'm a compulsive liar." "I chew my cuticles until they bleed. It makes a real mess at my desk." Or how about: "I'm obsessed with all things George Clooney. I have his face tattooed on my rear."

FMF also offers some humorous possibilities, including "I like to sleep on the job since I find the sounds of office machinery to be soothing."

You'd be a fool to be honest about your worst weakness or fault, he says, so what's the best way to answer that question?

In a post called "The never-ending debate on the ‘weakness' question," FMF examines several possible strategies -- including offering a "weakness" designed to make your potential employer melt. It's an approach he used in the distant past. One of his examples: "I'm a workaholic. Even on weekends, I'm putting in extra hours to get the most for my company." 

But now he's not so sure about that strategy. He notes that a U.S. News & World Report article says that "candidates who offer strengths camouflaged as weaknesses come across as lacking insight or self-awareness." Or perhaps sincerity.

So what's left? Talk about a real weakness, FMF says, but only if it's not too awful, you've fixed it, and you can explain how you did it in a convincing way. 

Several readers said the "weakness" question may actually be valuable in judging a job candidate's honesty or self-awareness.

"I like the idea of having a ‘solved' weakness stored up and ready to go," added Mary from SimplyForties.

Published Feb. 13, 2009


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