The wobbler interview question

Regular interview question post, part of the common interview questions and answers tips series for Nov 2014.

More will follow at different times, so sign-up for the blog posts or the RSS feed so you can be one of the first to see them as the questions and answers are posted.

In the earlier post, we covered the typical opener, “tell me something you are good at, what are your strengths?”

Now comes

The “Wobbler” Interview Question

This comes in different forms, to put it mildly, without deliberate intention, it unnerves even the best candidate. The smooth polished performance after speaking about their strengths, suddenly makes them feel like they are walking on thin ice!


  • Mild – What do you think is your weakness which you try to work on to best help you at work?
  • Tough – Tell me about your current or old bosses or supervisors, which one gave you the worst staff appraisal and why?
A candidate responding:

Mild – “my weakness is my impatience, I like to get things done”

Tough – “It was early in my career, I nearly got fired for being late to work on a regular basis because I did not have a car and relied on the bus.”

These responses are actual candidate responses at interview, short and in some ways acceptable, in others not.

Interviewer Thinks Any Of The Following

1: Mild – The team likes to plan, could this result in conflict with someone always trying to complete everything? Is the work quality at the required level? Speed can be good, must check the final results of the work, or a hidden personal life need to be away from work on time because the job needs someone to work late twice a week.

2:Tough – Time keeping or bad planning? Did he or she prepare for this interview? Why tell me they nearly got fired? This answer is ringing a lot of potential alarm bells and needed qualification. The reality, the candidate lived outside the city, had to catch 3 buses and in the end relocated and rented not far from the company offices. To obtain that information took two more questions!

 Interviewer Tips
  • Does the response match show the candidate gave any thought in advance to the interview?
  • Does the answer show any self-evaluation or an ability to review their actions or personality and learn?
  • Did they admit to any weakness? Every once in a while someone says they have none, a huge red flag moment. You as the interviewer need to follow-up, a question like this or similar:” if we work together, what do you think about your working style could irritate me?” If the answer is closed, or poor in your opinion, this person may have issues communicating.
Job Hunter Candidate Warning

Do not be afraid of the “wobbler” interview question, it is a lead-in to the nasty behavioural follow-up questions, many of which you cannot prepare for, so you need to be careful.

These may be related to moments of frustration, trust, acceptance, wrongful allocation of work meaningless or overload personal reactions, delegating and not seeing the results you expected and a lot more.

This is why any question exposing your weaknesses is a “wobbler,” like nerves on your first day at school or on your wedding day, you know it is going to happen but you do not like it! It is what follows which is more of a worry.


The wobbler interview question answered wellYou can avoid your wobble moment, a little preparation can go a long way.

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