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The Question Doctor...
The Cure for the Common Question

What are your weaknesses?

Are you asking the candidates to explain why you should not hire them? Is it fair to ask this of candidates? This question is commonly discussed in books on preparing for an interview. Most candidates will come prepared with a well-rehearsed answer focused on real, but insignificant weaknesses. As a result, you learn little that will help you make your hiring decision.

Better Question: How can we help you address any areas of weakness?

This question provides a context for asking the question, but is problematic in two ways: first, the candidate may focus on minor weaknesses to avoid scaring you off by describing bigger problems that may appear expensive to fix. Secondly, you appear ready to take ownership of this potential employee’s weaknesses.

Even Better Question: Describe what you have done in the last a year to overcome an area of weakness.

Asked this way, the question makes the statement that it is not enough to be able to identify weaknesses and know what to do to overcome them. You want evidence that the candidate has successfully taken steps in the past to address weaknesses. You should ask supplementary questions to learn who identified the weaknesses (the candidate or someone else) and who developed the strategy to address them.

During his Interview Right to Hire Right seminar, Nelson Scott works with participants to develop and ask questions that will yield the high quality information needed to make the right hiring decisions.


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© Nelson Scott.  All rights reserved.

A professional trainer, speaker, and consultant since 1995, Nelson Scott works with organizations that are committed to making the right hiring decisions, developing and retaining productive staff, and strengthening relationships with customers.  Learn more by visiting or e-mailing


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