In answering the question “What’s your greatest weakness?” your initial impulse might be to craft a strategic response that really emphasizes your strengths. For example, you might say, “I’m such a perfectionist” or “I work too hard.”
But recent research from Harvard Business School suggests that “humblebragging,” or boasting concealed by a complaint, can be a turnoff in interviews. It’s wiser to say something genuine like, “I’m not always the best at staying organized,” which sounds more honest, and could make your interviewer more inclined to recommend you for the position.
Interestingly, a 2016 study by a pair of Brown University researchers found that general bragging is more useful in certain contexts than in others. When you boast about how responsible you are, for example, and there’s no evidence to suggest that you’re not, you seem more competent.
If, however, your recommendation from your last manager indicates clearly that you’re irresponsible, you’ll seem less competent for having bragged.