As someone who is now finding himself on the other end of the interview table, I'm wondering how useful these questions are from an employer's perspective. Some of my coworkers think they're good because you can see "how they respond," but I'm not convinced it tells you anything useful, for several reasons:
- It's not a very comfortable question and can lead people to twist their answers, even if not on purpose
- People may not fully know their greatest strengths or weaknesses (i.e. judge them by their peers)
- Explaining what a strength is isn't as good as showing it
- I still don't know any more about the candidate afterwards
The rationale of my coworkers is that it can help weed out people that give ridiculous responses, like one guy that said his greatest strength was "his intellect" or people that try to turn the weakness question into a strength like "I work too hard." But I think there's more effective ways to determine such things. If you want to see if someone's smart, ask them technical questions. If you want to see if someone is productive, look at their work history. If you want to see how someone reacts under stress or change, ask them how they've dealt with it and ask for concrete examples.
What are people's thoughts on these questions, from the perspective of an interviewer? What do they really tell you about a candidate, and what are better alternatives? How do I convince my colleagues of this?