The Dreaded "What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?" Question

Listing your greatest strengths is almost as tough as listing your weaknesses because you walk a fine line between being perceived as a total douche bag and Mother Teresa.  I could go on and how about how I’m patient, caring, funny, smart, approachable, empathetic and humble (see the irony here?). 

Some of those would even be accurate.  But, I’m not a saint… but I’m normally not an arrogant prick, either.  So, I’ll do my best to list strengths that reflect who I am in the most realistic sense:

  1. I don’t beat around the bush.  And I’m not talking about THAT kind of bush! (Although, I don’t beat around that one, either!)  I’m talking about the fact that when I’m trying to convey a message, I get to the point as quickly as possible.  Unless I have a lot to say.  In which case, I like to fluff things up a bit.  But, not in a bushy way.
  2. I get shit done.  I am pretty calculated about getting things done.  I pride myself on finding efficient ways of getting to the end goal.  I sometimes step on toes along the way; but it’s like having casualties of war.  It ain’t pretty, but it happens.  And, at the end, I get shit done. Unless we're talking about household shit. I don't get any of that done!
  3. I usually learn from my mistakes.  And, when I’m lucky, I learn from the mistakes of others – which has saved me from having to go through my own personal pain and misery.
  4. I’m competitive.  Unless it has something to do with exercising and/or sports.  I’m ok losing at that stuff.  I think my kids have inherited this strength.  They just haven’t learned how to properly handle it.  They’re both very sore winners. And, one of them is a very sore loser – I won’t name any names, but he’s the shortest person in my house and his name rhymes with Wessy.  Word to the wise: do not EVER play battleship or miniature golf with this person.  EVER. You have been warned.
  5. I am a multi-tasking queen.  This is why I own a tiara and wear it often and proudly.  On a daily basis, I have no fewer than 456 balls in the air.  And I never drop a ball.  Well… I rarely drop a ball.  The point is, I can juggle a bunch of stuff all at once without going insane.  Insanity strikes only when other people start jumping into my ball air.  That’s no good.  As my favorite former boss used to say, “…we all know how much you love your balls!”  Love might be a strong word; but I’ll go with it.
My greatest weakness is the fact that I can never think of any weaknesses whenever I’m asked this question. 

For the record, “What is your greatest weakness?” is the WORST job interview question EVER.  Can I add that to my list of pet peeves?  As a person who has done A LOT of recruiting, I have always made it a point NOT to ask this jacked up trick question.  We all know that weaknesses can be presented as strengths and strengths can be presented as weaknesses.  It’s all in how you word your response.

For instance, someone can say that their greatest weakness is that she/he is a workaholic.  Saying this “tricks” the employer into thinking that he/she will be a hard-working, loyal addition to the team.  But, really, this “workaholic” is probably a person who has to work double hard to get their job done and often finds him/herself working long hours because he/she is incompetent.  Same goes for the person who claims to be a “perfectionist to a fault”.  I call bullshit on that one, too.

If I were interviewing for a job, and the interviewer pulled this lame ass question on me, here’s how I’d love to respond:

Interviewer: What is your greatest weakness?

Me: Honesty.

Interviewer: I don’t think honesty is a weakness.

Me: I don’t give a shit what you think!

But, alas, honesty is not really one of my weaknesses when it pertains to landing a job that pays in actual U.S. currency.   So, without further ado, I’ll play along.  Here are a few of my weaknesses.

  1. French fries.  They do a number on the waistline.
  2. Kryptonite.  And bullets.  And ninja swords.
  3. Vodka and clear Rum.  As I age and struggle with having (or not having) a healthy lifestyle, I have come to the conclusion that my formally favorite adult beverages (sweet wine, pina coladas, mai thais, fruity margaritas, etc.) are now causing ridiculous headaches and leg swells and should be avoided if at all possible. HOWEVER, on the bright side, my friends, Vodka and Rum, when simply mixed with diet soda or bubbly water, give me the stress relief I need without all the side effects.   YAY for science experiments!
  4. Spaghetti Arms.  I can’t lift shit, ya’ll.  That’s why I married a really strong man. 
  5. I project self-expectations.  Because I hold myself to high expectations (and standards), I tend to hold those around me to the same.  So, as a potential manager of a group of idiots, I may not be a good fit if they’re used to being coddled.  And as a parent, I expect my children to be courteous, independent thinkers who show responsibility and make well thought-out choices.  I’m failing at all this shit.