“What’s your greatest weakness?” is one of those job interview questions that have become far too common. So much so, job candidates are generally prepared for it. The smartest ones know not to bury themselves by unveiling some particularly horrible personality trait. They also know not to make themselves come off as perfect.

“I think everyone’s tired of ‘your greatest weakness’ by now,” writes Tenfold & The Talent Agency founder, Stacy Zapar on TheUndercoverRecruiter.com, “Most answers are pretty canned and uninformative anyway. There are different ways to ask that question and get more meaningful responses. Perhaps ask about an area of opportunity in a past review and what steps they took to improve and how it all turned out. Much better than hearing ‘I’m a perfectionist’ again and again.”

What’s the real problem with asking the “greatest weakness” question?

It reveals more about how the job candidate is able to cleverly answer questions than it is about how the job candidate would make an ideal fit within your company’s culture. Sure, the answer could reveal something about the individual’s personality…but how often is a person going to paint himself/herself in a negative light? Essentially, listening to the answer becomes a waste of time.

“Questions about a person’s greatest strength or weakness don’t do much more than tell you how well a person has been trained to answer interview questions, researchers say,” writes Allison Linn of CNBC, “Ditto for the old nugget, ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’”

Trick questions get trick answers.

As mentioned, the “greatest weakness” question sparks more of an exercise in how to get around trick questions. Job seekers have likely heard the question so many times, they are ready with inventive answers. In other words, job candidates generally provide trick answers to trick questions. And how does that help you to find the ideal employee?

On Bustle.com, Suzannah Weiss lists a number of ways for job seekers to answer the “greatest weakness” question with ease. Her suggestions in include naming a weakness that can also be a strength, telling a story about how you learned about your weakness and have worked to improve it, picking a small weakness that wouldn’t impact your ability to do the job and selecting a weakness that would only be considered a weakness for another job position.

“If the position is a salesperson in a store, for example, you might say, ‘I get bored easily and need to be moving around. Talking to people, listening to them, arranging stuff, and just busy,” Weiss suggests, “If I had to sit behind a desk all day, that would be the worst possible role for me.”

Savvy job candidates know to only highlight positive traits.

Weiss’ top suggestion for candidates, however, is to talk about what they want to get better at. She notes that framing the answer in a way that isn’t negative – so that it highlights one’s willingness to grow and improve – is an adequate way to deliver an answer to the “greatest weakness” question.

What does this tell us? If you’re really looking to secure the right fit for each position you have available in your company, it may be best to drop the “What’s your greatest weakness?” question from your job interviews.

For more expert advice on how to compose job interview questions that will help you find the best possible candidates for the job, give Hire Value Inc. a call at 403-978-3827 today!