I also can't remember getting much useful info when I've used that question as an interviewer. However, when I put the question to members of the Recruiter Roundtable on Yahoo! HotJobs, I got some interesting viewpoints on the possible value in asking about weaknesses.
"It's not that I want to nitpick or make people feel uncomfortable, but rather I want to see in which areas they feel they need to improve and what they are doing about it," said DeLynn Senna, executive director of North American permanent placement services, Robert Half International. "In order to advance professionally, we all need to be able to honestly identify not just our strengths but also our weaknesses and how we can upgrade in these areas."
For the complete set of recruiter perspectives on "the weakness question," view the Recruiter Roundtable article.
If you think it might be better to state a weakness that is totally unconnected with the job you're applying for, consider these possible answers:
- "My Chihuahua. I just can't resist him when he looks up at me!"
- "I have a fear of eating in public places, so I prefer to eat under my desk."
Believe it or not, these are some of the dreadful real-life answers cited in the article "The Most Dreaded Interview Question."
Of course, one of the worst things you can do is to say that you have no weaknesses. We all have them, so think hard if you must!
Experts say one of the best things to do is to answer honestly, but make sure that the weakness you select is not a major function of the new job. But also back it up with ways that you have tried to improve upon your weakness, preferably in the context of your previous job. See the full article for an example of how to answer in this way.
OK, so now I'm dying to know: Who really eats lunch under his or her desk?