The cliché question arises in almost every interview:
Describe your personal strengths and weaknesses.
The question in straight forward but seems like a trick question but if you establish an appropriate context, then you can give an honest and well thought answer. Answering this way will showcase your professionalism & awareness. A hiring manager or recruiter ask these types of questions to qualify or disqualify you as the type of person who would excel in this specific position.
Even if you are not directly asked this question it is still a great way to prepare and frame your interview about what you can bring to the table. When you are prepared for these questions, it sets you up to answer almost any popular interview question.
What is considered a strength or weakness is different for almost every position. What is a weakness in one role can be considered a strength in a different role. There are a general scope of strengths and weaknesses that should be mentions during the interview.
Examples of General Strengths: Analytical, communication, leadership skills, team player
Examples of General Weaknesses: Hard & soft skills, and examples on how to spin your weaknesses so they don’t knock out out of the running for the role.
“What Are Your Greatest WEAKNESSES?”
The focus is on the job description so all your answers whether a strength or a weakness should be tailored to the position you are interviewing for. For example, if this role requires a lot of team projects and tasks, you would want to tailor in the fact that you are a crystal clear communicator who excels in managing and or working under a spectrum of people for a common goal.
When on the topic about weaknesses make sure to avoid any weakness that would automatically disqualify you for the position. For example, if the job requires a lot of designing and writing, do not say your weakness is creativity. No matter what weakness you mention, make sure you have a positive spin on your answer.
As an example you might want to bring up your weakness and explain it as a strength:
Example: “I can be very critical of my work. Often after a project I have always felt I could have done more even thought I can look back and say I’ve done well. This pattern has left me burnt out and negative. I have decided in the past two years to make mental notes of my achievements and do little things to celebrate them. This has helped shift my thinking and to appreciate my team and other who support me”
It is only natural to have weaknesses and we rarely want to put them out there on display to someone we’ve just met, but a truthful answer can help show your fit within the organization.
Some examples of weaknesses include:
Critical / Sensitive
Perfectionism (Note: this can be a strength in many roles, make sure to give an example how perfectionism has posed a problem for you)
Shy / Not adept at public speaking
Competitive (Note: Similarly to perfectionism, this can be a strength)
Limited experience in a non-essential skill (especially if obvious on your resume, face this one head on)
Not skilled at delegating tasks
Take on too much responsibility
Not detail-oriented / Too detail-oriented
Not comfortable taking risks
Too focused / Lack of focus
Examples of Strengths
If you aren’t sure about your strengths, ask coworkers, your past managers, and friends what they see as your strongest qualities.
Some examples of strengths include:
Flexible / Versatile
Enthusiastic / Passionate / Driven
Disciplined / Focused
Committed / Dedicated
Attentive / Detail-oriented
Some final points to keep in mind when these questions come up:
Remember to tailor your answer to the job description
Not be overly humble, and
Be specific in your responses. (specific situation where you were weak or strong)
When prepared, your answer this this question can really get a clear picture of who you are and how you would fit into the role. Turn your weaknesses into challenges you’re on your way to conquer and your strengths into the reasons why you should be placed perfectly into your new role.
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