If you have attended job interviews, you would know that there are certain types of questions employers across different companies and industries like to ask, and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” is one of them.
The reason why most employers ask you about your greatest strengths and weaknesses within mere minutes of meeting you is primarily to judge your self-awareness and gauge if you would be a good fit for the role and/or company before making any important hiring decisions. The way you articulate your answers to this seemingly simple question can make or break your interview.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Answering the Question
Do keep the job description in mind.
When asked about your strengths during an interview, it is best to articulate an answer that is in line with the job description. For instance, if the role involves a lot of collaboration between different teams and you possess great communication skills, you can tell the employer all about it. At the same time, when answering weaknesses, avoid mentioning ones that would make you unfit for the position.
Do put a positive spin on your weaknesses.
When talking about your weaknesses, make sure to add a positive spin that reassures the employer that you are doing something to improve your skills.
Don’t sound overconfident.
Confidence is key, but overconfidence more often than not comes off as insincerity. Be sure to talk about your strengths in a natural and genuine manner without sounding arrogant or narcissistic.
Don’t feel pressured to hide your flaws.
Perfection is a myth. Everyone has weaknesses and flaws. If you give responses like, “I don’t have any weaknesses” or “I’m a perfectionist”, employers will either assume that you are not willing to share your weaknesses or are not aware of them, both of which are considered red flags in hiring situations.
Don’t give disqualifying answers.
While it certainly is important to be self-aware, you should also be strategic when talking about your weaknesses. Don’t give answers that will put you in a completely negative light and disqualify you. For example, telling the employer that you have poor analytical skills will not bode well if you are applying for a role in the finance sector.
The Best Answers
“What are your strengths?”
“I like being proactive in the workplace as it keeps me motivated and engaged. When I’m assigned a task or a project, I don’t simply work to meet the requirements. I go above and beyond, do my research, analyze what other companies in the industry are doing, and think of ways to do it better. My proactive attitude is what earned me the ‘Best Employee of the Year’ award two years in a row in the previous organization I worked for.”
“I have excellent interpersonal skills, and I’ve been told the same by my managers, subordinates, and even my company’s partners in one form or another on many occasions. I’ve always understood how crucial it is for human resources personnel to show empathy, which is why I consciously work on improving my listening and communication skills when interacting with other employees. I’ve also been working with a leadership coach for the past year and a half, which has greatly honed my human skills. One of my career goals is to continue improving my soft skills so that I can impact the workplace for the better.”
“Sales is my forte. I have the exceptional ability to understand customers’ needs and provide them with the right solutions that don’t just meet their needs, but surpasses them. I have exceeded my sales goals every quarter by at least 20%. I also pride myself on having built great relationships, which resulted in increased trust in and loyalty to the brand.”
“Content writing is my greatest strength. I can easily see through brands, grasp the image each tries to convey, and write persuasive and highly engaging content that complements its marketing efforts. Whether it’s social media posts or newsletters, the content I write converts into leads and ultimately sales for the company.”
“I take pride in my ability to provide excellent customer support and overcome potentially challenging circumstances. With three years of experience as a customer service representative, I’ve learned how to properly understand and address customer problems, especially during times of crisis. I have excellent communication skills, which enable me to deal effectively with customers, team members, and executives.”
“I possess great leadership skills. During my time as the Head of Department, I successfully put together a new team that manages influencer relations and coordinated training programs for all team members to ensure that everyone was not only comfortable, but also confident in their new positions. As a result, the marketing team was able to see a 15% increase in leads in the first quarter.
What are your weaknesses?
“I would say that one of my weaknesses is that I focus too much on the details. With any given task, I always find something that needs to be changed or improved each time I go over it, which can sometimes be a vicious cycle. To make sure that I don’t spend too much time obsessing over minute details, I give myself deadlines for revisions. This helps ensure that I’m not making changes till the last minute.”
“Due to my enthusiastic nature, I sometimes bite off more than I can chew and end up with a pile of tasks that causes me to feel overwhelmed and stressed. To work more efficiently and effectively, I downloaded a project management software that can be accessed from all of my devices so that I can see how much work I have at any given time before deciding to accept tasks. This method has proved to be great so far!”
“I sometimes find it difficult to ask for help in the workplace out of fear of burdening others with my work. However, I recently came to realize that it’s sometimes a lot more beneficial for myself and the company if I reach out when I don’t how to move forward with a task as my colleagues may have specific knowledge to share that can make my work better. I have certainly been able to produce higher-quality work as a result of seeking guidance.”
“I’m very career-focused to the point where my work-life balance is, well, not balanced. I soon realized that, when I neglect my personal needs, it tends to have a negative effect on my productivity at work. To help myself do better in all aspects of my life, I started following a life coach online whose advice, like taking short breaks at work and turning my phone on silent when enjoying dinner, has proven extremely useful in helping me be the best version of myself.”
“I’m not the best when it comes to being organized. While it hasn’t impacted my performance, I’ve come to realize that a tidy desk and a clean inbox could only improve my efficiency. I now block off half an hour on my calendar every week to organize my physical and digital space, and I’ve seen it improve the way I work.”
“I tend to hold back on providing feedback out of fear that I might offend my colleagues. Recently, one of my team members voluntarily came up to me and gave me very useful feedback on one of my presentations, which is when I realized that when it’s done constructively, giving feedback can bring out the best in a person instead of dampening their spirit. I have since been working on providing my feedback in a kind and thoughtful manner so that others can benefit just as I have.”
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