When you’re interviewing for a job, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be asked about your strengths and weaknesses. Next to “Tell me about yourself,” this is one of the most dreaded questions. I personally never ask this because it generally does not yield useful information. Nevertheless, it is asked in interviews hundreds or thousands of times every day.
How you answer can reveal if you are qualified for the position and whether you are honest and self-aware. That is what they hope to hear…but they can also see through the surface-level answer. Let us walk this tight rope together, shall we? Look at it as an opportunity to demonstrate why you’re a top candidate for the job. Express your personality and describe what you can contribute to your potential new employer. Are you ready to talk about your personal strengths and weaknesses? Use these tips to develop a concise and compelling case that will convince the hiring manager that you’re a great match.
Discussing Your Weaknesses During a Job Interview:
- Be prepared. You’ll make a more favorable impression if you rehearse your response rather than trying to invent something on the spot. Write out some talking points and keywords that you want to use.
- Stay relevant. Pick weaknesses that are related to a work setting and the position you’re seeking. Review the job description. Customize your answers as much as possible.
- Focus on growth. While you’re discussing possible flaws, you can still end on a high note. Let the interviewer know what you’ve learned from experience and what you’re doing to strengthen your capabilities and performance.
- Avoid deal breakers. Avoid meaningless clichés, like saying you’re a perfectionist, and think twice about saying anything that would remove you from consideration. For example, struggling to meet deadlines is challenging to overlook if you want to be a news editor.
- Tell a story. Use anecdotes to illustrate your strengths and weaknesses. Follow the usual guidelines for compelling stories, including sticking to the point and proceeding in a logical order. Remember the STAR format.
- Do research. If you’re having trouble evaluating yourself, ask your friends and coworkers. You can also find many resources online with lists of sample strengths and weaknesses.
Discussing Your Strengths During a Job Interview:
- Sound confident. Much of the advice for talking about weaknesses apply to strengths too, with some additional considerations. Work at sounding assured without coming across as arrogant or underestimating yourself.
- Stand out. Maximize this opportunity for letting the interviewer know what unique qualities you bring to the table. Focus on skills and traits that closely match the job description and work carefully on your presentation.
- Be truthful. Resist any temptation to exaggerate. Ensure you can back up your claims and deliver on what you are promising if you get hired.
- Be specific. While you can find sample language online, you’ll need to tailor your strengths to your own situation. Clarify what leadership abilities or software skills you possess. Tell stories that prove your accomplishments in past positions.
- Bring a list. While you’ll probably want to discuss only 2 or 3 specific strengths in any one interview, it helps to have a few backup options too. You may discover information during the interview that makes one of your stories more or less persuasive.
- Look ahead. Spell out how you can use your new workplace talents if the company decides to bring you on board. Your interviewer wants to know what positive impact you can have for them.
- Show enthusiasm. Attitude matters as much as hard and soft skills. While you’re delivering your message, could you pay attention to how you’re saying it? Let your interest and excitement show.
Walk into your next interview, prepared to discuss your strengths and weaknesses. You will be more likely to receive a job offer, and you will have a sound basis for evaluating whether the position will be satisfying for you.
Need to practice? Deep End Talent Strategies offers mock interviewing. Schedule a 30 or 60-minute session.