What's your greatest weakness? When job interviewers ask that — and you should expect it — don't say, "I don't have any." Of course you do. Everyone does. Treating it like a joke will brand you as overconfident or something of a jerk. Still, you don't want to offer up some juicy failure that will nix your chances for sure. It's better to follow this formula:
1. State one of your strengths.
2. Admit a small challenge within that subject matter.
3. Tell how you're continuing to master it or improve.
To give you an idea how that works, here's a sample answer provided by interview coach Carole Martin, author of Boost Your Interview IQ:
1. My people skills have been my strongest asset working in the customer service field.
2. I do admit, however, that sometimes I am challenged to rise above what is going on and be objective about how I handle things with co-workers and customers.
3. This is something I continually work on. In fact, I am currently reading a book that is a huge help in understanding the different personalities in the workplace and how to handle them.
When asked about your weaknesses, it's smart to answer the question in the context of the job you're seeking.
You wouldn't say you're uncomfortable meeting new people if you're applying to be a sales representative.
You wouldn't say you're uncomfortable with technology if you're applying for — well, just about anything.
Be aware, too, that some descriptions may be interpreted by the interviewer in a far more negative way than you do.
You may think that saying you're a perfectionist is a safe weakness that shows how much you care and how careful you are. The interviewer may see perfectionism as slowing down output or causing quibbles with co-workers.
You might also avoid saying, "Oh, I expected that question." Instead, say something like, "That's a fair question. I suppose I would say that ..."