What are your weaknesses?

Hi Core77 peeps! Having just had an interview that asked me this question, I’d like to know what other industrial designers might have to say in answer to it. In the interview I said I lack experience working with engineers, and I believe that was exactly the wrong thing to say at that particular company. In fact, I’m not even sure if it is the truth, I work with engineers in China all the time, just on very simple products. I didn’t get the job, but I hope to be more prepared for the future. I tried to avoid the cliche answers, “I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too hard”, but maybe the question is just a bad question to begin with. Let me know how you like to answer this question or what you would suggest! Thank you!

I agree, horrible cliche to ask. And when asked a cliche, my first instinct is to be obstinate. Your answer of I work too hard comes to mind. I’m of the opinion is that if they ask such a stupid question, it is a red flag not to work there.

That said, my company has decided that all of us (30,000 employees) should take the Gallup strengths finder. Some phony baloney test like Myers-Briggs. I don’t put much stock into them. But my bottom 5 (of 34), my weaknesses, are context (I don’t dwell in the past), woo (I don’t care if people like me), harmony (I don’t need consensus), activator (I’m not inpatient) and individualization (team-building crap).

I can take any of those 5 and spin it to a positive. That is why I don’t take these things seriously.

iab: I think your bottom 5 describe anyone creative. We wan to make new things (don’t dwell in the past), we need to power through negative feedback and keep working (woo, individualization, harmony). Not sure if I understood activator, but …

I think you can spin any strength or weakness into whatever fulfill your needs. That is why I think these profiles are mostly meaningless.

As for activator, I use that for my Jheri curl.

Thanks for the quick replies iab and Mr-914, I could tell it was one of those company mandated questions. It was during my 3rd interview with upper management. Bummer because the actual design team leaders liked me and had a lot of great designers I could have worked with.

I stay away from company’s that ask generic questions in interviews, as it says to me that they dont understand individual value or look beyond “polished” answers.

I recently had to take one of those and I came out as too high on the imaginative scale… “so yeah, what is it exactly you would say ya do here?”

My favorite response to the interview question of “what are your weaknesses?” is “my biggest weakness is having a low tolerance for cliche questions”… I’ve never used it, but the thought has crossed my mind. When I interview people I prefer to be much more blunt and honest. Instead of that question I might ask “tell me a story about a time you just really screwed something up?” … we all have that story. The test is to see if the person handles it with candor, humor, and can weave a good tale. If they get all flustered and red, it probably isn’t going to work out.

But how do I answer the cliche question? Usually with something about not having a lot of patience for people who don’t want to do the absolute best thing for the company/project/end user… it is true it frustrates the hell out of me and it is a hard weakness for someone in NPD to fault someone for. Then pivot to how you won’t rest until …

I feel ya…

While I find these types of tests interesting personally they do seem to punish creatives to some extent. To your point, sure you can spin those as positives, but then what does that say about the context of these tests? Some of them seem to merely be a way to check how indoctrinated an employee is into some corporate BS ideal of “good” (tows the line, says yes) vs. “bad” (thinks critically, challenges status quo). Maybe somebody already has, but it’d be interesting to see a version of one of these tests set in the context of intrapreneurialship, critical thinking, creativity, etc., and then sit back and evaluate how poorly the corporate stooges bomb it.