How to answer the "weakness" interview question

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
09042014
Posts: 18282
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby 09042014 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:55 pm

What are interviewers looking for? Obviously not the real truth. "I'll surf the internet on company time, and I'm sloppy with grammar" = ding. But obvious bullshit like "I care too much" doesn't seem like the right answer.

Should I find some common flaw that doesn't have an effect on business work?

User avatar
Sentry
Posts: 1235
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:38 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby Sentry » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:58 pm

Perfectionist is always a good response.

coveyellow
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:40 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby coveyellow » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:00 pm

I've always been taught to tell the interviewer about a problem that you can improve upon. Maybe you are not experienced in a particular aspect of the job, but you make it clear that you are willing to work on it.

09042014
Posts: 18282
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby 09042014 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:02 pm

Sentry wrote:Perfectionist is always a good response.


But it's obvious bullshit.

User avatar
Unitas
Posts: 1387
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:03 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby Unitas » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:02 pm

Sentry wrote:Perfectionist is always a good response.


Don't just don't do above.

Talk about a weakness you are working on that they know is surmountable.

I.e. talk about poor handwriting if yours is poor and how you are working on getting better at it - maybe throw in a joke about buying books with how to write letters. They likely won't care and you practicing it will show you are actively trying to work on it. Talk about how much better it has gotten.

Talk about poor time management and using your new smart phone to actively combat it and how it is 100X better, but you still have to actively do it and therefore is a weakness. Spin it to sound like the weakness is now a plus, but is still a weakness. Sounds weird I know, but you can do it.

and so forth.

They want to know first that you realize you have faults and second that you try to combat them. Saying you try to be perfect is silly, since first it isn't surmountable and second it is cliche.

User avatar
cmraider
Posts: 101
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:13 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby cmraider » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:06 pm

coveyellow wrote:I've always been taught to tell the interviewer about a problem that you can improve upon. Maybe you are not experienced in a particular aspect of the job, but you make it clear that you are willing to work on it.

TITCR
Sentry wrote:Perfectionist is always a good response.

TINTCR

I don't know how it applies to law--I'm sure it does--but I was always under the impression that you want to present a weakness upon which you are improving. For instance, say "I've been unorganized in the past, but I'm correcting that," at which point you pull out your daily planner to demonstrate that you are earnestly trying to improve.

User avatar
OGR3
Posts: 881
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:56 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby OGR3 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:10 pm

I shit gold bricks.

I'm working really hard to change that to platinum.

BeenDidThat
Posts: 704
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:18 am

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby BeenDidThat » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:12 pm

Mine tends to be that I can be too critical of both myself and others. Usually end by saying that I am learning to be more diplomatic.

Think of something where moderation is key, and it would be a good trait in moderation, but you have it in excess and you're working on reining it in.

My example is the real truth, doesn't reveal anything really bad about myself, and isn't bullshit.

User avatar
jtemp320
Posts: 481
Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:27 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby jtemp320 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:15 pm

Unitas wrote:
Sentry wrote:Perfectionist is always a good response.


Don't just don't do above.

Talk about a weakness you are working on that they know is surmountable.

I.e. talk about poor handwriting if yours is poor and how you are working on getting better at it - maybe throw in a joke about buying books with how to write letters. They likely won't care and you practicing it will show you are actively trying to work on it. Talk about how much better it has gotten.

Talk about poor time management and using your new smart phone to actively combat it and how it is 100X better, but you still have to actively do it and therefore is a weakness. Spin it to sound like the weakness is now a plus, but is still a weakness. Sounds weird I know, but you can do it.

and so forth.

They want to know first that you realize you have faults and second that you try to combat them. Saying you try to be perfect is silly, since first it isn't surmountable and second it is cliche.


I think this is generally good advice but I agree with DF that this remains a problematic question. I'm not sure I'd want to reveal poor time management top an interviewer...bad handwriting sounds a little corny because its obvious no one cares.

I have to be honest - I usually go with I care too much which I recongize is obvious BS. Your approach though is credited talk about how you are actively working on it whatever you choose. Still an annoying question thiough.

Curry

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby Curry » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:18 pm

I always answer with something like "I tend to get slightly distracted with the social side of the job, but I respond incredibly well to goals so thats never really been much of a problem."


Answer egregiously stolen from a certain tls admin.

User avatar
fatduck
Posts: 4186
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:16 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby fatduck » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:21 pm

"I have trouble working with idiots, but I hope that won't be a problem at your firm."

maf70
Posts: 370
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:57 am

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby maf70 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:22 pm

I think the best thing to do is to state a weakness that won't conflict with your ability to perform the job. It should be something that you can give substantive examples of how you've worked to overcome it as well.

User avatar
BlueDevil2007
Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:46 am

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby BlueDevil2007 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:27 pm

I don't floss every day.

09042014
Posts: 18282
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby 09042014 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:28 pm

fatduck wrote:"I have trouble working with idiots, but I hope that won't be a problem at your firm."


"LOL DINGED" - DLA Piper

User avatar
fatduck
Posts: 4186
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:16 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby fatduck » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:29 pm

BlueDevil2007 wrote:I don't floss every day.

barbaric.

User avatar
Veyron
Posts: 3598
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:50 am

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby Veyron » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:37 pm

fatduck wrote:"I have trouble working with idiots, but I hope that won't be a problem at your firm."


Only TCR when interviewing at Susman.

User avatar
Lieut Kaffee
Posts: 774
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:01 am

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby Lieut Kaffee » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:37 pm

My schlong makes it difficult to find suit pants that fit comfortably, which can be a distraction. However, I have worked to overcome this issue by working with a tailor to find pants that meet my needs.

User avatar
Sentry
Posts: 1235
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:38 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby Sentry » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:46 pm

Do we really have people advocating saying poor time management? You do realize all they care about is your ability to manage/bill your time.

That'd be like interviewing to be a chef and saying "I struggle with making food, but I got these new knives which are helping."

Kretzy
Posts: 1431
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:11 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby Kretzy » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:46 pm

Bears.

Also, Sharks.

Scurredsitless1
Posts: 284
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:47 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby Scurredsitless1 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:49 pm

I talk about a strength that doesn't always fit within the scope of a previous job but would be good in the setting of a law firm. Lately, I have been using "assertiveness". I have a "make it happen" work ethic, and this wasn't always appropriate when negotiating settlements in my previous job, as time would often work in my favor. etc....

User avatar
Sentry
Posts: 1235
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:38 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby Sentry » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:11 pm

DF you should go with occasionally will troll mods.

LoriBelle
Posts: 106
Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:00 pm

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby LoriBelle » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:51 pm

I think an answer which says "I struggle with X, but I'm addressing it by doing Y" is much better than the strength-as-weakness BS the books often suggest. It shows that you both (a) understand what your weaknesses are (everybody has them, and if you don't recognize yours, that's a liability) and (b) address your weaknesses rather than hide them.

Now, obviously "I'm a two-time felon, but I'm working on avoiding strike three" doesn't quite work, but you get what I'm saying.

User avatar
introversional
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:59 am

Re: How to answer the "weakness" interview question

Postby introversional » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:44 pm

I think a good approach to take for this very predictable question is to simply have something well prepared.

I think having something ready to discuss shows you (a) prepare well and (b) are aware enough to know what to expect in certain situations. Staring off into space looking to draw off of the most glittering piece of BS you can think of while Mr or Mrs hiring partner is sitting in front of you isn't a good look. The reality is we all have weaknesses, and the person looking to hire you is most likely looking for someone to help with his or hers. (wouldn't point that out btw)

I would massage the context or usage of the term "weakness" to represent something I haven't mastered yet, but am actively working on, and will master soon. Then I'd transition into talking about something else I'm skilled at, which I got there by practice, preparation, study, experience, etc, etc.

The worst thing you can do is frame your weakness as something you're aware of, aren't doing anything about, and have no hope of every becoming good at. That actually does say a lot about someone.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.