How to talk about Strengths and Weaknesses
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When it comes to job interview questions one of the most common interview questions is “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”. Hiring managers and recruiters can gain a surprising amount of insight into your hireability with this seemingly innocuous question.
Are you honest ? Are you self-aware? Do you have growth and development potential ? Can you leverage your strengths and acknowledge and learn from your weaknesses? These are examples of the observations and insights that can be ascertained from these questions.
We know it can be difficult to prepare for a job interview, but by following our tips below, you’ll have a great understanding of structuring your answers and ace your next interview!
6 Tips for Talking About Strengths and Weaknesses in a job Interview
One of the most important things to get right when talking about your strengths and weaknesses in an interview is honesty. Recruiters and hiring managers are uniquely attuned to generic and calculated answers, so an honest answer is in your best interest.
All the best candidates recognize what they bring to the table, and know what they’re capable of. They also understand their weaknesses and actively work on improving themselves. You’ll be a better employee if you can understand and leverage your strengths and acknowledge and learn from your weaknesses.
The STAR method should be used whenever you’re answering non-technical questions. It helps contextualize and focus your answers.
Having some trouble? Check out our guide to the STAR method.
Bring Some Insight
A great answer isn’t complete without insight.
When you’re talking about a strength, your answer should always tie the strength you’re discussing to the role you’re interviewing for.
In the case of a weakness, your answer should demonstrate that you’re able to acknowledge a weakness, and that you’ve been able to overcome it, or learn from it.
Keep it Short
Keep your responses reasonably brief and try to focus on one or two examples for each segment. A concise and focused answer will identify you as a self-aware candidate who understands their strengths and shortfalls.
It’s important to take this segment of your interview seriously, but in reality a hiring decision will not be made solely based on these questions. Stress is the enemy of a good interview, and being well prepared will help you nail your interview regardless of your answers.
Preparing your answers
With these tips in mind, it’s time to start preparing your answers.Through the interview process, hiring managers want to identify self-aware candidates who can acknowledge their strengths and understand how these strengths benefit them in their role.
Even the most experienced candidates can struggle to describe their strengths, so we’ve compiled a list of examples to inspire you.
Your particular strengths may be different, but pay attention to how these examples craft a narrative and highlight how the strength in question benefits you in the workplace.
Examples: How to answer what are your strengths?
- My collaborative nature is a great strength which often comes to play in team settings. I’ve always preferred working with others over individual work. When leading a project, I find it easy to motivate and inspire others, while delegating the work fairly. I’ve often finished projects ahead of schedule by sharing responsibility equally with a team.
- I’m relatively new to sales, but I find that my client research skills have become my greatest strength. I love helping people save money, and finding new solutions to client’s problems. With extensive research, Most recently, I’ve saved one of our biggest clients 5% annually by doing a needs analysis and adjusting their package.
- Empathy is my greatest strength because it allows me to relate to people and understand their needs. The biggest lesson I learned from my experience in a customer service role, was the importance of a happy customer, and this has carried me through many interactions in my career. I’ve noticed that even faced with a tough situation, I’m able to remain positive and solutions-oriented thanks to a customer-focused mindset.
- I believe that my greatest strength is the ability to solve problems quickly and efficiently. I can see any given situation from multiple perspectives, which helps me complete tasks even under challenging conditions. I think my ability to see all sides of an issue will make me a great asset to the team.
- I’m not afraid to take on difficult tasks, because my biggest asset is my work ethic. I’m always willing to step in when needed and put in the extra hours. I’m able to work outside of my job description and comfort zone, and I don’t feel like I’m above any single task. I believe this has made me incredibly adaptable, and makes me a good candidate for any role.
In the examples above, we’ve provided realistic and honest answers which acknowledge a strength and demonstrate how it’s benefited us in a working environment. We’ve also kept the answers focused, concise and easy to follow.
Examples: How to answer what are your weaknesses?
It’s important to understand that weaknesses are not character flaws. They are simply areas of improvement, and when thinking about your weaknesses, it's important to consider attributes that you are proactively working on improving. Ideally, you would need to clearly explain or demonstrate steps you are taking to turn that weakness into a strength.
Tip: Not sure of your weaknesses ? Ask a friend or coworker for advice, as they can help you determine what you can improve on.
Being able to identify improvement areas will identify you as a well-rounded candidate. Through the interview process, hiring managers want to identify self-aware candidates who can acknowledge their flaws, and actively work on improving them.
- I am overly critical of my own work, and even though I do receive praise and recognition for work well done, I can’t help but feel that I could have done more. After discussing this with my manager, they made me realize that I need to celebrate my successes and look at them objectively. This has really shifted my perspective and improved my confidence.
- I am quite introverted, which makes me quite cautious in the work environment. I often feel too shy to share my ideas in group discussions. After running into some issues with a previous project where I had the solution but did not share it, I decided to start making changes to get more familiar with sharing my ideas for the benefit of my team. It's still a work in progress, but it's something that I've improved dramatically over the past year.
- I struggle to ask for help, as I often want to take responsibility for entire projects without any help. While I am able to complete projects with great success, it’s often preceded by unnecessary stress and burnout. I’ve come to realize that this is not an efficient way to work, and I have been learning to analyze the full scope of a project and delegate the work effectively.
- I find it difficult to balance new projects with existing projects. I am extremely goal-oriented, and work hard to complete my projects, however when a new task comes up, I often find myself neglecting my previous work to focus on the new task. I found that using a project management tool has helped me tremendously with prioritizing my workflow, and I am constantly working on my efficiency and productivity.
- I often try to avoid conflict and confrontation, as I prefer to keep the peace. This has sometimes caused me to compromise the quality of my work, which became an increasingly bigger problem as I progressed in my career. I acknowledge this weakness and I am actively working to improve my communication skills, specifically around constructive criticism.
In the examples above, we’ve provided realistic and honest answers which acknowledge a weakness and demonstrate how it’s been overcome . We’ve also kept the answers focused, concise and easy to follow.
Now that you know how to prepare your answers for one of the most common interview questions, take a look at our handy preparation guides to best prepare you for your upcoming job interview - Interview Preparation Guides
You’ve just taken your next steps towards succeeding in your career, be sure to take a look at the Wizco Blog for more insider tips and tricks and walk into every growth opportunity prepared.
It pays to be prepared!
The Wizco Team