In an interview the most common question asked of candidates is “What are your strengths and weaknesses?.” This question leaves many candidates wondering how to answer this question without bragging or risking making themself look bad.
The key to answering this question is simple, prepare your answers before the interview so you know how to answer this question in a way that makes you stand out as a good candidate.
What are your strengths?
Rather than just blurting your list of strengths, which is easily done in an interview, think about giving an example to go along with the specific strengths you mention. You want your answer to be inspiring and relevant to the job you have applied for, so looking at the job advert for guidance can be very helpful in doing this.
So, before the interview make a list of all your strengths, including knowledge-based skills, transferable skills, and your personal traits.
Here are a few examples of strengths that people to get you started:
- Continuous learning
- Takes initiative
From your list that you have written take a couple of key strengths and think of examples of how they address the specific qualities needed for the job and how they make you a good candidate.
What are your weaknesses?
This must be the most challenging of the two questions to answer, as you do not want to say what you are bad at or answer with the risk of jeopardising the job you are interviewing for.
You may think to say ‘ I have no weaknesses’, but no one is perfect, and the hiring managers know this so avoid answering in this way. For a hiring manager denying any weaknesses can be seen as a lack of awareness, you are overconfident, or you are unable to learn from your mistakes.
To begin with, write down all your weaknesses and then look at ways to put them in a more positive light. In the interview, it is important to talk about what the weakness was, the steps you took to address the weakness, and how much you have changed as a result. You want to show that you are proactively looking at ways to improve yourself.
Here are some examples:
- Too detail oriented
- Tendency to take on too much responsibility
- Nervous about public speaking
The weakness question in an interview is an opportunity for you to show a future employer that you can learn new skills and are willing to change your behaviour or way of working if it negatively impacts the business or the team.
This interview question can be tricky and stressful for many people but with proper preparation you can excel at this question.