The Killer Question—"What's your biggest weakness?"
I got asked that recently—to my surprise—at the end of a podcast interview with a well-known business web site.
I'll tell you my answer, but first let's talk about tough questions.
The weakness question is a test: how well do you handle yourself? It presents an elegant, damned-if-you-do, or-don't trap.
What, really, are your options?
a) "I'm wanted in three states for grand larceny." (Too big; if you have to go this route, stick with "larceny," delete "grand." Grand sounds like a boast.)
b) "I have no weaknesses." (Too defensive.)
c) "I'm a perfectionist." (Too cute.)
d) "I'm highly critical of other people's footwear." (Too odd—though intriguing.)
The ideal answer is: 1) job-related, 2) already known, and 3) fixable.
(My podcast answer, of course, ignored all three.)
For example, if you've only worked for Fortune 500 companies, and you're applying for a non-profit job, mention your lack of non-profit experience.
But also mention: You're a fast learner; you've done extensive volunteer work; you've had a lot of experience in the airline industry, and none of those companies ever made a profit either.
Here's the larger point: when asked a question, you have options.
Suppose, for example, you're giving a presentation and get asked something you can't answer.