Don’t underestimate the significance of common interview questions just because they’re commonly asked. Insufficient preparation for these questions can be the deciding factor between moving forward and falling behind. Take, for example, the frequently asked query, ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ In this post, the author shares effective strategies for articulating your strengths and addressing your limitations. Additionally, you’ll find sample language you can use as a helpful reference.
Standing out and sounding honest are two of the most critical things you can do in a job interview. Certain questions are like the greatest hits playlist that you just can’t avoid. Right at the top of that chart-topping list are three classics:
“Tell me about yourself”, “why do you want to work here”, & the ever-ominous “What are your greatest strengths & weaknesses”
The classic answers to this question are often trite and unoriginal. For example:
→ My strengths are creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration.
→ My weaknesses are perfectionism, working too hard, & caring too much.
While these answers may be true, they’re not likely to make you stand out from other candidates. And if you’re not honest about your weaknesses, the interviewer may be able to tell.
Here are some tips for answering the strengths and weaknesses question in a way that is both original & authentic, it’s best to prepare two answers for each question, even though you’ll probably only use one.
When you talk about your strengths in an interview, remember that it’s not just about you-it’s also about what the company requires. To make sure your skills shine & leave a strong impression, follow these guidelines. Your strengths should be impressive, fit the job, stand out, and have evidence to back them up.
Here are some simple ways to make your generic strengths sound more impressive:
- Communication skills: instead of saying “ communication skills”, say “Public speaking and presentation skills”, This shows that you’re not just good at talking to people, but that you can also give clear and engaging presentations.
- People skills: instead of saying “ People skills”, say “ Team management skills”. This shows that you’re not just good at getting along with people, but that you can also lead and motivate others.
- Video skills: Instead of saying “ video skills”, say “video production & editing skills”. This shows that you have a deeper understanding of video and can create high-quality content.
Strength: Public speaking
- Real-life example: I recently presented our new customer-service portal to a prospective client, and they signed up immediately.
- Impact : My public speaking skills helped me to close a deal and bring in new business for the company.
- Enjoyment : I love public speaking and find it to be a rewarding experience. I also enjoy helping my colleagues with their presentations, as it allows me to share my knowledge and expertise.
→ Combined: I have a passion for public speaking, and I’m not afraid to use my skills to help my team and the company succeed. For example, last week I presented our new customer-service portal to a prospective client, and they signed up immediately. I love seeing the impact that my speaking skills can have, and I’m always happy to help my colleagues improve their presentations.
My greatest strength is team management. I love bringing together people with different skills and perspectives to achieve common goals. I’m also passionate about creating a positive and supportive work environment where everyone can thrive.
One of my proudest moments was winning a team appreciation award this year. It was an honor to be recognized for my work helping my team succeed. I truly enjoy doing my part to create a team that is high-performing, collaborative, and fun.
I’m a team player at heart, and i love helping others succeed. I’m particularly skilled at bringing together people with different skills and perspectives to achieve common goals.
This year, I was honored to receive a team appreciation award for my work on a recent project. I’m passionate about creating a positive & supportive work environment where everyone can thrive, and I truly enjoy doing my part to help everyone do their best work.
Being genuine while avoiding self-defeating behavior is crucial when discussing your greatest weaknesses in an interview. It’s possible for an interviewer to recall a flaw and hold it against you — even unconsciously — so you should try to avoid making any negative impressions.
You can respond responsibly and protectively by following these recommendations:
Instead of seeing it as a weakness, think of it as a challenge. You can even use the word challenge in your response. This shift in perspective takes away some negative connotations associated with weakness and makes it feel more like something you can overcome. After all, a weakness suggests something permanent, while a challenge implies an opportunity for improvement.
Skills related to your job, such as data analysis, presentation abilities, or software proficiency, are usually areas where you can learn and grow. Interviewers recognize this. However, behavioral challenges like impatience, disorganization, or insecurity may appear to be ingrained personality traits that are harder to change.
Avoid using tired examples like “perfectionism” or claiming that a strength is your weakness
“Sometimes, I work too hard/research too much/consider too many ideas”. Instead, aim for unique and genuine responses that truly reflect your abilities and potential for improvement.
Select a challenge that doesn’t directly relate to the core responsibilities of the job. While your strengths should align with the skills required in the job description, your chosen challenge should not overlap with those essential skills. Essentially, you want to avoid being weak in areas crucial for the job’s success.
- Describe the weakness.
- Mention any minor consequences associated with this weakness.
- Express your enthusiasm and commitment to addressing and improving this weakness.
Incorporate all of these elements into your answer. However, keep the consequences portion concise and focused on minor issues, allowing you to emphasize your dedication to overcoming the challenge rather than dwelling on the challenge itself. When you put it all together, your response should sound something like this:
I’ve faced a challenge in my career: I don’t have much experience with presentation tools like PowerPoint and Canva. In the past, I’ve hired specialists to create my presentations, but sometimes they didn’t understand my content as well as i did. This year, i’m setting a goal to master these tools so that i can create my own presentations and keep improving my skills.
One challenge i face is proofreading my own work effectively, especially in fast-paced environments. I like to take my time to ensure quality, but sometimes time constraints don’t allow for it. To overcome this challenge, i’ve asked for feedback from other writers and editors on my teal. I’m also considering taking writing classes to improve my editing skills so that i can be more efficient and proactive.
I’ve found it challenging to adapt to new workplace technologies, especially complex tools like cloud filing platforms, database software, and content management systems. It takes me longer to become proficient in these tools, but once I do, I enjoy using them and helping my colleagues learn. I appreciate companies that offer training and resources to help employees become confident users of these tools.
- Communication: Public speaking, presenting, brainstorming, graphic design
- Organization: Team management, project management, database management, attention to detail
- Technical skills: Video production and editing, software proficiency
- Self-confidence: Fear of public speaking, feeling uncomfortable giving feedback
- Learning agility: Needing more time to learn new systems, asking for help
- Time management: Lack of time management skills, difficulty setting goals
- Interpersonal skills: Meeting facilitation, delegating
- Choose a weakness that is not essential for the job you are applying for.
- Be honest about your weakness, but also show that you are aware of it and working to improve.
- Focus on your strengths and how you can use them to overcome your weakness.
→ Here are some examples of how to frame your weaknesses positively:
- “I’m not the fastest learner, but I’m persistent, and I’m always willing to ask for help.”
- “I can be shy at first, but I’m a good listener, and I’m always eager to learn from others.”
- “I’m not the best at time management, but I’m working on setting realistic goals and breaking down tasks into smaller steps.”
By following these tips, you can choose weaknesses that will make you a more well-rounded candidate and show that you are self-aware and motivated to improve.
Ultimately, as the interview wraps up, what recruiters, potential colleagues, and supervisors truly seek to understand goes beyond just your greatest strength and weakness. They are eager to discover the kind of person you are and how you’ll contribute to the team’s success. So, when they ask, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” what they’re really asking is, “Are you the type of individual who can elevate our team and its endeavors? Can you provide honest assessments of your abilities and seize opportunities for growth?”
While you work on perfecting your responses regarding your strengths and weaknesses, keep these crucial considerations in mind. Your goal is to present yourself as not merely a collection of skills but as someone they can rely on — during the interview process and long into the future. Your ability to enhance the team, embrace honesty about your capabilities, and demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement will leave a lasting impression that extends far beyond the interview room.