Sitting job interviews is a skill you can learn in the same way as any other. However, to get all the information they require, a hiring manager will often ask questions that throw us off-balance because they need an unnatural way of answering.
There are many of these interview questions, yet, one two-part question often puts dread into people sitting in interviews.
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
You may find the answer asked in separate parts, or some hiring managers may ask it at once. Regardless of how they request it, it still needs the same honest answers, and you still need to put in the same amount of preparation.
Here you can learn more about this common interview question and the best ways you can prepare for your answers.
What the Interviewer is Asking
When you face the most common job interview questions, the interviewer is trying to find out several things at once. Although your answers may be similar to those given for other questions, the manager wants to see your response to a challenging question.
The most important things are self-awareness, honesty, and if you can learn from your mistakes.
Many offer the answers, such as strengths being hardworking or they are a perfectionist, yet these are generic answers and heard a thousand times.
Using these as your greatest strengths makes it appear as if you are now aware you may possess failings, or you don’t wish to expand and share them. You can be showing your greatest weakness by answering the first part of the question.
How to Determine Your Strengths
Once you begin your job search, you need to list your personal strengths because you will use these in certain areas.
Once you align these with the job description, things become a little easier as all your references relate to something the interviewer is aware of.
You can use these in your cover letter to give the full details because once you come to answer these questions, you are talking about something factual.
Even with this, it can be hard to answer because once you begin speaking of your strengths, it can be far too easy to sound as if you are bragging.
You will build a list of strength words, and you can go through this and highlight all the ones that relate to you. It is here you check the position listing and check which ones also refer to the job.
Be sure to use this in your letter, your resume, and ready for use in your answers when sitting in your interview.
Examples of strengths are:
- Personal characteristics and traits: Here, you will use qualities that make you unique. Accuracy, detail-oriented, determined, flexible, motivated, responsible, and functional time management, and a good team player.
- Transferable Skills: Such skills will be useful no matter which job you hold. You carry these in all occupations such as communication, creative thinking, problem solving, efficiency, conflict resolution, motivation, mentoring, and decision-making.
- Knowledge-based skills: All the ones in this area you will have gained through experience or education. Computer skills, any language learned, extra training, college degrees, and your ability to perform these tasks physically.
Your list can contain anywhere up to twenty or thirty strengths, yet you should only select around five, which matches what the employer is seeking. Once you script your answer, you must be able to say it with confidence.
A sample answer to the first part of your strengths and weaknesses question.
“My strength is my flexibility to deal with change. Serving as a customer service manager in my previous employment, I managed to turn around a working environment that was full of negativity and change it into a fully supportive team.”
What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?
It can be hard for anyone to talk about what his or her failings are. It is unnatural to admit to failing while trying to impress in a job interview.
What you need to understand is the interviewers are more interested in your approach to the question rather than the answers you supply.
You can answer this question without divulging any weaknesses that relate to the job position. When you respond in this way, it means you won’t show weak areas for the position you are applying while you still admit you have weaknesses.
When you go to answer, “what is your greatest weakness?” you do so by minimizing traits and emphasizing the positives.
It is advisable to refrain from mentioning any personal traits and focus more on your professional qualities.
One brief example is: “I proudly see myself as able to see the ‘big picture.’ Admittedly, sometimes I overlook the minor details; of course, I always make sure that I have a detail-oriented member on my team.”
Here are a few more what are your weaknesses examples, you may be able to relate to and adapt for your personal use.
The secret is to state your weakness, and then add more context that shows your awareness and commitment to individual growth.
1. Lacking Experience: “I’m unfamiliar with this latest version of [software application]. So instead, I put my focus on [preferred software] since I have a passion for user-centred development and design. In recent projects, that is where I have spent a lot of time learning and growing.
2. Self-Critical: “I tend to be too critical about myself. Earlier in my career, I noticed a pattern where I felt I could have done more. Early on, I was heading toward exhaustion and negative self-satisfaction. Since then, I consciously take active breaks to celebrate any accomplishments.
This has helped increase my self-esteem but has also helped me genuinely appreciate and acknowledge my team members and support networks.
Although the question is frequently the most dreaded part of an interview. When you take some time to prepare a thoughtful response, you can develop a story of who you are and who you want to be.
While preparing your answers, convert weaknesses into challenges and strengths into compelling reasons why you are such a great candidate for the job.