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“你最大的弱点是什么?”面试时如何回答这种问题

Anne Fisher 2018年11月01日

任何人描述自己的错误都不会很愉快,尤其该问题常常出现在颇有压力的环境里。

“你最大的弱点是什么?”

如果你找新工作面试,跟猎头见面,或在现有公司找机会平级调岗,对方都有可能问起你的弱点。

其实应付这个问题并不难。

奇怪的是,虽然多年来面试中经常出现“你最大的弱点是什么?”,还是有不少人栽在上面。毕竟没有完美之人,即便对面的面试官也一样,任何人描述自己的错误都不会很愉快(尤其该问题常常出现在颇有压力的环境里。)然而,如果能预料到会出现该问题,提前想好答案可能会产生很有趣的效果,这不仅是为了面试官,也是为自己好。

首先要理解为何该问题如此常见。“可能有两个原因,”大卫·布尔库什表示。他在奥罗罗伯特大学教授领导力和创新,已撰写三本有关职业管理的书。“第一,对方想了解你对自己的了解程度。你能清楚认识自己的短处么?”

现在大家都很熟悉一些常见的回避方式,往往是将优点当缺点说,例如 “我工作太努力”,或者“我是完美主义者”,所以不要这么回答。(讽刺的是,这些确实可能是弱点。工作太辛苦往往会导致效率下降、极度紧张甚至最终倦怠;而自称完美主义的人往往过度关注不重要的细节,导致身边的同事抓狂。)

布尔库什表示,第二个原因是如果招聘主管负责带团队,“希望知道你能不能融入现有的团队。”这意味着“如果现有团队在某方面很强,而你在该领域弱一点则问题不大。不过如果你弱的地方恰好也是现有团队的弱项,可能机会就渺茫了。”

不幸的是,从外部看很难了解到现有团队成员的情况,更没法了解老板如何看待,想猜测也是毫无线索。

所以如果被问到“你最大的弱点是什么?”最好的策略就是坦白回答,简单介绍下自己哪些地方有困难,以及如何努力解决问题。也许某次你介绍业务时没抓住观众的注意力,但后来你加入了演讲俱乐部,介绍业务再也不用念文稿。又或者你以前对业务的财务方面不太熟悉,后来报名了一两个财务专业课程。布尔库什表示,关键在于认真审视自己,表现得“很了解哪些方面可以贡献价值,而哪些方面仍有改进空间。”

可以针对最大弱点的问题,提前准备一个简短直接的答案,迅速对付过去。当然也可以多花点时间,借机认真自省,这也正是有趣之处。

“我的建议是,讨论自己的优势,其中混合一两个弱点,”总部位于芝加哥的猎头公司LaSalle Network首席执行官汤姆·吉姆贝尔表示。例如介绍一个管理很好的项目,但提一提下次可以改进的地方。“就整体结果给自己打10分,”吉姆贝尔建议,“然后这么说,‘不过在工作过程中,某些阶段我没做到跟一些同事保持紧密的联系,所以团队沟通方面我给自己打7分。这方面正努力改进。”讲述经历时自我批评越深刻就越可信,而且越有可能给对方留下深刻的印象。

在吉姆贝尔看来,大多数应聘者没花太多时间回答这个问题。“我发现求职者犯的最大错误是,详细研究未来的雇主和行业,却对自身的优点和缺点缺乏真实诚恳的思考,”他表示。“非常了解公司当然很好,但很明显,面试官肯定比你了解。对方最想知道你是个怎样的人。不要到最后对公司了解得一清二楚,面试却没通过。”(财富中文网)

安妮·费舍尔是一位职场专家和咨询专栏作家,为《财富》杂志撰写“解决问题”专栏,主要提供21世纪工作和生活指南。每周她都会回答最具挑战性的职场问题。想提问吗?可在Twitter上直接提问,或发邮件至workitout@fortune.com。

译者:Pessy

审校:夏林

‘What is your greatest weakness?’

If you’re interviewing for a new job, or meeting with recruiters, or even just trying to make a lateral move to some other part of the company where you work now, there’s no guarantee that anyone’s going to ask you to talk about your flaws.

But it’s a pretty safe bet.

The odd thing is that, even though the ‘What is your greatest weakness?’ question has been an interview staple for years now, it still throws people. Nobody’s perfect, after all, including the person on the other side of the desk who’s asking, and having to describe our mistakes is nobody’s idea of fun (especially in a setting that’s often stressful enough, thank you). Yet, if you assume this query is coming, thinking up a good answer ahead of time can yield some interesting insights—not just for your interlocutor, but for you.

First, it helps to understand exactly why the question is so common. “It’s likely to be for one of two reasons, if not both,” says David Burkus, who teaches leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University and has written three books on managing careers. “For one thing, they’re trying to get a feeling for your level of self-awareness. Do you know yourself well enough to recognize your own shortcomings?”

By now, everybody’s familiar with the shopworn turn-a-strength-into-a-weakness dodge—”I work too hard,” or “I’m a perfectionist,” for instance—so don’t even consider going there with your answer. (The irony, of course, is that either of those might truly be a weakness. Overwork often leads to declining productivity, extreme grouchiness, and eventual burnout; and self-described perfectionists have been known to focus so relentlessly on picayune details that they drive their coworkers right up the nearest wall.)

The second reason for asking, Burkus says, is that if the hiring manager leads a team, “they’re trying to see how you would fit into the staff they already have.” That means that “it’s okay to have certain weaknesses if most of the existing team is strong in that area. But a relatively minor weakness might be a deal killer for you if everyone else on the team is weak there, too.”

Unfortunately, from the outside looking in, it’s hard to know a whole lot, if anything, about the people in that group, much less about how their boss perceives each of them; and trying to guess is pointless.

So the best answer to “What do you think is your greatest weakness?” is a candid one, where you briefly describe something you’ve struggled with, and then tell how you’ve approached getting better at it. Maybe people’s eyes used to glaze over during your presentations, but now you’ve joined Toastmasters International and sworn off PowerPoint; or maybe you lacked a firm grasp of what the finance side of your business is doing, so you’ve taken an accounting course or two. The point is to check the self-awareness box, Burkus says, by showing “you know where you can add value and where you need to develop.”

Of course, you can rehearse an answer to the greatest-weakness question that’s short, to the point, and gets it over with quickly. Or you can take a little more time over it, and make it a chance to do some serious introspection—and here’s where it gets interesting.

“What I recommend is, talk about your strengths, and then mix in a weakness or two,” says Tom Gimbel, CEO of Chicago-based recruiters LaSalle Network. For instance, describe a project you managed that turned out well, but mention what you’d do differently next time. “Give yourself a 10 for the overall result,” Gimbel suggests, “and then say something like, ‘However, I didn’t stay in close enough contact with some people at certain points while the work was going on, so I rate myself a 7 on communicating with my team. I’m working on getting better at that.'” The more seriously self-critical thought you’ve put into this story, the more believable it’s going to be—and the more likely it is to impress the person listening to it.

By Gimbel’s lights, most interviewees don’t spend nearly enough time on the answer to this question. “The biggest mistake I see job candidates make is, they do exhaustive research on the prospective employer and the industry, and almost no real, honest thinking about their own strengths and weaknesses,” he says. “It’s fine to know a lot about the company, but obviously the interviewer already knows a lot more about that than you do. He or she wants to know who you are.

Don’t be an ‘A’ student about the company and flunk knowing you.”

Anne Fisher is a career expert and advice columnist who writes “Work It Out,” Fortune’s guide to working and living in the 21st century. Each week, she’ll answer your most challenging career questions. Have one? Ask her on Twitter or email her at workitout@fortune.com.

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