Social Question

Jude's avatar

During an interview, if you were asked: "What are your limitations or weaknesses?", what would your answer be?

Asked by Jude (32134points) February 15th, 2012

Just curious.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

48 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t work well with others. I would rather be given a task and complete it on my own unless it’s necessary to work with a team.

Nah…....I’d probably just make something trivial up.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I really don’t have any. I am highly qualified to do every aspect of this job that I am applying for.

Oh, I guess I should ask if this is a job interview.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I cant really do anything requiring serious heavy lifting due to my back injury.

janbb's avatar

I like to understand the reasons for why I am doing something.

TexasDude's avatar

I fucking hate it when they play this card at interviews

My weakness and limitation is working too hard to better serve the company, sir.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

No one is going to say “Kryptonite”?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Michael_Huntington That would certainly be a pace changer during an interview. ;)

tom_g's avatar

“I visit fluther during work hours.”

Jude's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard That is all that you could come up with? :)

downtide's avatar

I can’t drive.

rebbel's avatar

Limitations: I absolutely say no to threesomes.
Weaknesses: When two pairs of eyes beggingly stare at me I give in.

Jude's avatar

Appreciate your honesty.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I know the details say you’re just curious, but just in case someone reads this and is headed to an interview, let me tell you how I was professionally coached to answer this question.

I was told to think of a situation of event that was extremely difficult for me to overcome and relate how I managed to deal with it. I was instructed not to give the interviewers reasons to write me off. I was to show them some of my strengths instead.

chyna's avatar

I am task oriented and strive to complete each task before it’s deadline.

ragingloli's avatar

I would chastise this insolent fool for daring to suggest that I have limitations or weaknesses.

wundayatta's avatar

My limitation is that I can only consume so much beer in a short period of time before I pass out.

Alas, I am afraid I cannot work for you. I do not work for any company that asks such a poorly considered, irrelevant question. This question tells me that you are game players and don’t prepare adequately for the work you do.

By the way, I do not consider it a weakness that I say exactly what I think insofar as it affects the company’s business and bottom line. You could use a few more people like me here, but unfortunately for you, I will not be working here.

Good day.

GladysMensch's avatar

I find myself working much harder than most of my fellow employees. This dedication to my job has, at times, caused envy among my peers, as well as problems at home. As a matter of fact, my ex-wife often referred to me as (dramatic pause) a workaholic.

best spoken in the voice of Zap Brannigan

CWOTUS's avatar

I would tell the interviewer forthrightly that I have a lot of strengths, more than I can quantify, in fact, so I appreciate the somewhat easier task – even if it’s a negative one – of listing my various known shortcomings. But one of my shortcomings is that I’m blind to some of them, so I can be forgiven for not being able to respond in toto as if I were discussing painful symptoms at a doctor’s office, in which case I could make the list extremely detailed, definitive and fully qualified.

But a glaring limitation that I have – if it is a limitation – is a complete inability to deal with inanity in a crisis, or to make small talk when there is something obvious and important that simply has to be dealt with. “I can keep my sense of humor and even make jokes during a crisis, while still getting on with the job at hand, but I just can’t ignore what has to be tended, even if that’s what seems to be wanted. So what’s your next question? And did you hear the one about the monkey and the pool cue ball?”

GladysMensch's avatar

The actual best answer to this question is to reference some minor part of the job that you may have difficulty completing, and your plan to address the difficulty.

For example: “I understand that you’re looking with someone with knowledge of (whatever). I am familiar with (whatever), but I’m not yet an expert. That’s why I’m (taking a course, reading such-and-such, attending professional meetings…) to broaden my knowledge base.”

Judi's avatar

I usually admit that I always keep a messy desk.

wundayatta's avatar

@Judi There are meds for that! ;-)

dappled_leaves's avatar

“An impatience with famously stupid interview questions.”

tinyfaery's avatar

I always say the same thing: I have a problem with asking others for help. I would rather just figure it out myself.

Judi's avatar

I applied for a job once for a property manager in a Real Estate office. I told them that I absolutely HATE selling real estate and I didn’t really want to have anything to do with selling. The interviewer was practically begging me to take the job because everyone else that applied were real estate agents that just wanted a place to land until the market recovered. I didn’t take the job though, because he wanted a property manager/accountant. I also hate the details of accounting. I’m a big picture girl. I think it’s good (if you can afford it) to be totally honest with these kinds of questions. I don’t want a job that expects me to be something I’m not. Everyone would be miserable.

Jude's avatar


“This question tells me that you are game players and don’t prepare adequately for the work you do.”

Funny, this question is often asked on teacher’s college applications, as well as applications to get into a Masters of Social Work program. How about them apples?

(some people are so full of themselves)

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Judi I’m not sure interviewers are particularly looking for honest answers to that question. I think they read about it in a book of “great questions to ask in job interviews”. They probably think that if you give an honest answer, you’re not “selling yourself” hard enough, so you don’t want the job. This question is a perfect example of one designed to reveal nothing useful about the interviewee. I wish they would knock it off.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t often leave work when I go home and get too involved in the lives of those I try to help. I like working independently and am flexible but do not appreciate lack of structure especially when it comes to holding my superiors accountable.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

As someone who will soon enter the job force, I have no idea how to answer this question, and I know that it will be asked on interviews

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess Everyone answers it with some variation of what’s been given above. You pick something that’s supposed to be a strength, and talk about it as if it’s your weakness.

deni's avatar

Last time I got asked this I said that previous employers have said that I’m easily distractable. I don’t think that’s true, I might go from task to task but I’m always getting something productive done, which is more than can be said for a lot of people.

If I’m in a bad mood, I can’t pretend I’m in a good mood just to please customers. Thankfully I’m in a good (or at least decent enough) mood 99% of the time, but I cannot put on a front if I have to. If I’m mad or sad, that’s it. I can’t pretend I’m not.

I also can’t do canned comments/greetings/whatever like some people like. Ok so only one manager has ever said anything like this to me but he said “you know, when they come in, just ask them about the weather. Ask if its still cold outside”....I was like, fuck no! I know what the fucking weather is like. And if I don’t, I’ll ask ONE person, not 200. That’s stupid. If I’m not asking the question because I genuinely want the answer, it will just come off as fake. It’s better not to make any conversation aside from “hello, what can I get for you?” than canned, phoney shit like that. I can’t stand when others do it to me in a restaurant either.

Bellatrix's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake gave the perfect response for this. Think about situations you have found difficult in the workplace and talk about how you overcame those difficulties.

mrrich724's avatar

To anyone who needs to know what to say to this question in an interview, I have an easy answer for you as an HR person.

Simply put, tell them what needed improvement in your last performance eval. at your current or previous job. This will do two things:

1) Immediately give you a better answer than the 90% of folks who cop out and say “oh, there’s always room for improvement, and I am always seeking ways to better myself including remaining educated in relevant issues to the position”

2) Give you an opportunity to not only list a weakness, but list steps you’ve already taken to proactively better yourself, since your weakness is one you should have already been working on!

MilkyWay's avatar

Truthfully, I don’t work well in a team. But I’ll never admit that to the interveiwer.
I’d probably tell them I’m often too enthusiastic and energetic.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@mrrich724 As an HR person, do you ask this question in interviews? If so, why?

mrrich724's avatar

I ask the question in interviews because it is part of my job description. I have a list of questions I must ask.

However it is a good question because when someone can answer it, it shows several things including:

1) The person is thoughtful and actually thinking of ways to improve themselves.
2) The person is self aware and has a realistic image of their self. Which allows them to more easily be adaptable to feedback and improvement.

You really want people (in leadership roles especially) who know they are flawed and eager to work on those flaws. Believe it or not, most people would rate themselves (I’ve seen it first hand in surveys I’ve administered myself) how many people think their managers would rate them 5/5 and who think they truly have nothing to improve on. These people are typically the type that are hardest to get to reach higher goals and become better workers/managers.

So the short answer is, you want people who can answer the question a certain way as an indicator for potential.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@mrrich724 I agree that it would show those things if it were answered “honestly”. However, you must see even from the responses to this question that most interviewees are afraid to answer it honestly (even if they genuinely have nothing to fear). We all try to game the system by answering the question in “the right way”. Given that, do you really believe that the responses are showing thoughtfulness or self-awareness? I think they’re showing that they’ve had an interview before, and they’ve been forced to come up with an answer to this %^^$%%^$-ed awful question that doesn’t hurt their chances at getting a job.

mrrich724's avatar

Trust me. An HR person knows when you are being honest about this question. We’ve heard all the fluff a hundred thousand million billion times.

And even if they have learned what their weaknesses by going through the interview process a few times, that’s ok. It shows their capacity for learning and being introspective, because no interviewer is going to TELL them their weakness, they still have to learn it for themselves.

It’s still better than those who ignorantly state more of the same (like, “my weakness is that I’m too hard on myself in always striving for perfection. I need to learn when to let go and move on”, like saying “my weakness is that I’m too perfect”)

The truth is not flattering, but it can be flattering in that you are telling the truth! And it’s obvious when someone is telling the truth b/c you think (as an HR person) “wow, they actually just shared that with me.” Most of the time, you aren’t going to get yourself an automatic “no thank you” just because you shared what is a true weakness.

Bellatrix's avatar

And unless the weakness is something that will affect your ability to work in that role significantly, would you want to work for an organisation who couldn’t stand people being honest about their flaws and shortfalls? We can only learn to manage those flaws if we are aware of them. Great answer @mrrich724.

filmfann's avatar

It might be indecisiveness, but I’m not sure.

Judi's avatar

I guess you could always go with, “I sometimes pick my nose. ”

bob_'s avatar

“I can be selfish in bed.”

More answers here.

woodcutter's avatar

I would have to say I have a hard time doing dumb work and putting up with rudeness in employees on or off the job. And I have zero control over pent up bowel gas whenever someone is putting me on the spot. Are we almost done with this interview?

Jeruba's avatar

I’d probably say something like this: “Oh, I have a few, but I have a pretty good idea of which ones would actually interfere with my ability to do a particular job. For instance, I wouldn’t be applying for a job that involves a lot of blood or requires major muscle power. I happen to think this position aligns pretty well with my strengths, and I’d rather talk about those.”

Coloma's avatar

Strengths: Excellent communication/people skills, enthusiastic, cheerful, organized, good at implementing creative solutions

Weaknesses: Do not do well with being micro-managed, control freaks.
Give me a task and leave me alone, do not hover! Zero tolerance for workplace bullshit, gossip, games

wundayatta's avatar

It’s a bullshit question designed for gaming. If HR professionals were serious about it, they would ask you to talk about a task you had difficulty with and what you did to improve your ability to handle the task. It equally shows your ability to analyze your abilities and to plan how to improve.

Of course, if you were an HR professional with one-quarter of a brain, you wouldn’t even need to ask such a hackneyed question. All you have to do is ask people about work they have done in the past, and what problems they faced in pursuing that work. The stories will pop right out. You’ll be able to tell instantly how a person handles themselves in their work, and you don’t have to ask bullshit questions that get you bullshit answers 99% of the time. Now that’s what I call stupid.

In case background makes a difference in terms of the credibility of our answers on this question, I have a degree in human resources from one of the most highly ranked HR graduate schools in the nation. That’s all well and good. What I think really matters is that I have been hiring people for years and the people I hire are very good, and I have never asked a “canned” question in my life.

@Jude Funny. The education college where I work is generally considered to be a joke in the rest of the university. This seems to be true at other universities as well. They have a long way to go, I think, in becoming more academically rigorous. Part of that might be being more creative on the application interviews.

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