"What's your biggest weakness?" Question

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by lilia123, Jun 22, 2014.

  1. lilia123

    lilia123 Companion

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    At almost every interview I have been on I get asked the dreaded, "What is your greatest weakness?" question. I have an interview for a 5th grade classroom position this week and feel like I never give a good response to this question. Does anyone know what types of answers interviewing committees or principals are looking for?
     
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  3. Splasher

    Splasher Rookie

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    I remember when I went on an interview for my current job, my supervisor had a list of questions her boss wanted to ask, and she read the question "What is your biggest weakness?", and then she said "Well, that's just stupid. Why would I ask somebody that on an interview? We're skipping that one." That's why I love my supervisor.
     
  4. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    I got much better at this question when I thought of it as asking what was I most looking to improve on next year. Every year I have taught there has been areas I want to improve on the following year. In the past I have wanted to give students better feedback, include more writing in my class, have a wider variety of review activities/games, etc... I started answering this question saying that this is what I really want to work on for next year and here are some things I am wanting to do to improve that area of my teaching. This always seemed like an acceptable answer to an interviewer.
     
  5. SleekTeach

    SleekTeach Comrade

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    Never give a real weakness. I always said "I have so many creative ideas that I want to use in my class, but I find it hard to implement them and follow the district's curriculum at the same time. I'm going to challenge myself to schedule in fun, engaging activities that are aligned with the standards that I will be teaching at a given time."
     
  6. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Be honest with this one to a point. Don't say that you don't have any weaknesses or respond with something like "I work too hard". It sounds arrogant and like you lack self-awareness. Also, don't say classroom management or content. Just don't...;)

    Find something that's true and explain how you're working on it. I've said in the past that I'm not artsy or crafty, but I can be creative in other ways and I am trying to infuse more craft-type projects into instruction - even if it means getting out of my comfort zone - to be more diverse with my instruction and target a bigger range of learners.
     
  7. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I said my lack of experience. But I told them I was worth a shot. They hired me.
     
  8. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Yes ... but/and ... The interview committee might actually be trying to find out if you are a reflective teacher who wants to be supported in taking your teaching to the next level. In my opinion, it's not a matter of making up a fake challenge and turning it into a positive (this is a very old interview technique that most people spot easily). I would suggest finding a distinctive area in your teaching practices that you'd like to focus on for improvement for the year.
     
  9. SleekTeach

    SleekTeach Comrade

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    Well it wasn't a fake challenge, just not one that would reveal a weakness in my teaching. It worked for me and got me a job. I just think it's better to say something thats non essential to a teaching position. I don't think I would have been hired if I had said "I tend to be really disorganized and all over the place, but I plan on creating a system that will help me mange my organization better and work on my organizational skills."

    Just don't say something that other teachers are really good at.
     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I agree with this. A "fake weakness" is very easy to spot. I've heard "I'm a perfectionist" or "I can't leave the job at school/I work too much at home" a lot. I remember I had been given the advice to give a "fake weakness" in college, and tried it out on my first real interview. I said something like, "I have so many ideas for my lessons that sometimes there just isn't enough time in the day to accomplish everything that I want to do, so I have a hard time cutting down activities." The interviewer literally said, "That's not a weakness, try again." I was so embarrassed that I bombed the rest of the interview, and I've never tried that again!

    I also agree that you don't want to say something vital to the position. When we were interviewing for my new sped teammate this year, someone said her weaknesses were IEP development, being familiar with common core, and delivery of lessons. Obviously she was put in the "no" pile right away!

    When we ask this question on my interview team, we are seeing if the person can reflect and improve on their teaching. Even if they are a really strong candidate who seems like a great teacher, if they think they're god's gift to teaching and have nowhere to improve, they aren't going to be a good fit for our school. We're looking for answers that show you know where you need to improve AND that you are taking steps to improve in that area. For example, I said I was working on incorporating higher level thinking into my lessons. Since I teach sped, this isn't the first thing that comes to mind when planning for my students, but I recognize that it is important for them to build these skills also. So I am working on that by developing questions that I will ask during lessons ahead of time and looking at where they fall in bloom's taxonomy so that I can make sure I'm including higher level thinking questions.
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Truthfully....my answer would be:

    My desk is a mess but I can always find what I need.

    My plans are pretty good for Mondays but after that things are flexible based on student needs...don't expect Wednesday to look like what I wrote on Sunday...life happens.
     
  12. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    So would this be considered a weakness...."My inexperience in collaborating with a team on the same grade level" I've basically only ever worked planning by myself because I worked in a school with one class per grade. One year I had 3 team mates and it was nice but that was 1 year out of 6 I have taught.

    Now of course I'm willing to collaborate and looking forward to it, actually literally starving for it, but should I say that if these question is asked?
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I've never been asked the weakness question nor has my hiring team asked it.
     
  14. Splasher

    Splasher Rookie

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    I would not. It makes it sound like you don't work well with others, even if that's not the case.
     
  15. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    Jun 22, 2014

    :yeahthat:

    The same thing happened to me with a professor where I went to school telling the class to give a fake weakness. My first few interviews out of college I said my weakness was I work too hard and have a difficult time not taking work home. I too had interviewers tell me that doesn't sound like a weakness.

    I also agree with you on how to choose a weakness. A good weakness in my opinion would be something that isn't something many teachers in your area of teaching would do. I think I mentioned above that I have used including more writing in my math classroom. Not too many math teachers in my area include a lot of writing in their class. Wanting to improve in that area will add something else to my classroom that not every candidate will have in their classroom.
     
  16. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    I've never really had the chance to work with others though. I think it's a HUGE weakness because I spend a lot of time planning alone. However it's a strength because I've learn to be resourceful. I have so many ideas to share just nobody to bounce them off on. I've lacked professional development and collaboration.

    I've been asked this question before but I want to give a more meaningful answer that's true to me which is why I thought it would be a good weakness.

    What about faciliating more positive parent communication? Too often the reasons we contact parents is for negative issues. My goal is to communicate more with parents about their child's successes.
     
  17. Splasher

    Splasher Rookie

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    I like that one a lot!
     
  18. live

    live Companion

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    If they're truly trying to determine if a candidate is a reflective teacher, why not be direct about it? Really, a simple, "What is something you are trying to improve upon as a teacher?"

    Otherwise, the question is designed to see how far people will throw themselves under the bus.

    You've received good advice so far. Gives me something to think about when I eventually switch schools.
     
  19. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    "I'm often mistaken for a student." :D
     
  20. hep223

    hep223 Companion

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    Jun 23, 2014

    Ok so this could be why I haven't gotten calls back after the first interview. I have been answering this question with- sometimes I lack self confidence and believing in myself.

    I have to find another way to answer this question. I was being honest!
     
  21. lilia123

    lilia123 Companion

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    Thanks for all the advice. I really like the one about using more higher level and critical thinking in my lessons, since all my previous experience has been in special education. I also now realize I need to add how I will improve on this too, I don't think I was doing that before.
     
  22. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    My biggest weakness is that I care too much.

    Cheesy, but so is the question.
     
  23. Splasher

    Splasher Rookie

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    Yeah, I would refine that one. Perhaps it would be better to say that you are too critical of yourself?
     
  24. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    This is what I plan to say in any upcoming interviews I have:

    "My biggest weakness is I've taught such a variety of subjects that I haven't been able to really refine any of them yet. It's been great to teach so many levels of science since I'm now able to better connect information, but I haven't been able to really focus on one main subject. Every year I'm still experimenting to see what works best for the kids."
     
  25. hep223

    hep223 Companion

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    One AP I met with responded to me with, "I think we all lack self- confidence when we are just starting out" which made me feel better.

    I like your response because it is true and certainly something my cooperating teacher would say about me.
     
  26. hep223

    hep223 Companion

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    I agree, it is a cheesy question and really, what does it tell them about our teaching ability? Someone please shed some light on why they would even ask this question.
     
  27. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The ability to reflect upon our areas for improvement is good to have in all aspects of our lives.
     
  28. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    I had subbed a lot...so I think I said something to the effect of being in one classroom with a set management style, but on the flip side I have had seen & used a lot of different styles so it will be great to try what will fit our classroom and make it our own....
     
  29. abat_jour

    abat_jour Companion

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    If I get this question can I say that I speak too fast?
    Is that not deep enough?
     
  30. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Lol abat_jour I think you might want to think of something a little more significant...do you know what I mean?
     

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