What are your weaknesses?

That’s a common interview question, huh? I’ve got some pretty snarky answers but I’m not sure any are appropriate for HR or a hiring manager (For example, “one of my weaknesses is burning bacon, I’m dangerous in a kitchen”). I’ve been doing some introspection lately and I have a new answer prepared for this question should it come up at an interview or in the context of a performance review or at a dinner out with friends so I won’t have to say something lame and generic like, “I work too hard”. 😉

If asked, I would say my weakness is really more of an area of continuous development. I am overly-enthusiastic and a huge Type A person so I constantly have to audit my communications to make sure I am not 1) giving too much away 2) muddling things with extra details or 3) overpowering others. This is especially important when I send email to my sites or business colleagues. I try to keep email correspondence succinct and use bulleted or numbered lists when I am seeking clarification on multiple points. In a team context, I make an effort to listen to other’s input before I jump in and offer my $.02 so that way less emotive folks can contribute to problem resolution. Finally, in a negotiation, you always have the most power when you can sit silently and take in all the information. I like to slow down and thoughtfully consider things rather than always acting impulsively.

So I think this is a good answer because I am describing something that I can control and work on. I am demonstrating self-awareness and goal-driven behavior; I think both of those skills are important to hone and develop. If I said, “I am short” I couldn’t exactly do much about that other than wear high heels so I think it is a poor answer to the question (I’m actually tall, but you get my point).

Let me know what you think of my new answer and it’s Friday so if you are feeling slap-sticky send me an email or post some outrageous answers you would love to give to this question.

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About The Author

The Lead CRA

Nadia started The Lead CRA blog in 2007. She is now lead author for ClinOps Toolkit. Nadia is currently working as a Clinical Program Manager at a small specialty pharmaceutical company in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can reach Nadia via email at leadcra@clinopstoolkit.com anytime.

5 Comments

  • Beth

    October 3, 2013

    I love your answer! In general, it’s my least favorite question to ask or to answer since the response can be so canned. My technique is to try to use it to discuss areas where I am weaker in my application for THIS job. So for my first CRA job (ie, the one I have now!), I basically said, “Well, the biggest weakness in my application is my lack of direct monitoring experience. I have [discuss translational skill sets and experience here] though, and I am going to do [insert stuff about how I will work to make up that deficiency in my first 30 days here]. I also think that my [insert strengths in my experience here] should help make up for that direct experience.”

    • Nadia

      Nadia

      October 3, 2013

      I like your answer, too. Now everyone reading this blog can use your secrets to success. Keep posting and commenting!

  • Ryan

    August 30, 2009

    I have an interview on Wednesday for my first CRA position, and I am absolutely dreading this question! I blew my first opportunity for an amazing CRA job by not being prepared for it … I CANNOT let it happen again! Can anyone share ways they have answered this without torpedoeing their own battleship???

  • Nadia,

    I just wanted to commend you on a great blog entry! This is always the interview question that catches me off guard… after spending thirty minutes saying good things about yourself, and then you are forced to offer up a negative that you’ll need to cleverly spin into something positive for the hiring manager.

    Just like we do with our sites, I agree that we should use this negative question as a way to show the ways we implement CAPA plans into our daily lives.

    Thanks for the great tip!

    -Jess

    P.S. My pancakes never come out in circles…. always mishapen blobs.

  • Anonymous

    July 6, 2009

    Your reply is a better answer than you are vertically challenged. Everyone can always work on communication and email is the hardest since it can so easily be taken the wrong way. Thanks for the ideas!

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