Common Interview Questions, Explained: How To Answer "What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?"
This post is a continuation in our series that features expert insight on answering common interview questions.
Do potential job interview questions keep you up at night? Do you find yourself replaying your answers over and over again in your head, wondering if you said the right thing?
Our goal is to help job seekers understand that common job interview questions don’t have to be intimidating.
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
This question is an excellent opportunity to highlight your skill sets and acknowledge where you have room to grow as a professional. Below, we’ll explain why interviewers ask this question and provide you with insight on how you can best respond.
Why Do Interviewers Ask About Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
Interviewers want to see how you use your strengths to your advantage and how you can improve your weaknesses, should you be hired for the position. By identifying a potential employee’s strengths and weaknesses, hiring managers can determine how well you’d fit into their team. They may also use your answer to rank you among other applicants.
One of the most important reasons an interviewer may ask this question is to gauge your level of self-awareness. Speaking honestly about your strengths and weaknesses is a sign of emotional intelligence, a skill that can’t always be taught. According to Ottowa University, research now indicates that our emotional intelligence is more reliable in predicting overall success.
How To Prepare for This Common Interview Question
Instead of dreading your next job interview, get ready for it! When preparing your answer to this question, consider the following:
Select strengths that are essential to the job role.
You may have many strengths to share, but choosing two to three will be sufficient for this answer. When considering your answers, ask yourself: What traits do I have that show I can excel in this role? What can I bring to this position?
For example, if you are interviewing for an administrative position, you may share that you’re incredibly organized; in a customer support position, it may be helpful to mention you’re detail-oriented.
Don’t avoid your weaknesses.
As tempting as it may be, avoid an answer like “I don’t have any weaknesses.” That being said, you should also steer clear of the responses “I work too much” or “I’m a perfectionist.” This approach can come across as dishonest.
Instead, share a weakness that won’t affect your performance of critical job functions.
A great example could be sharing a skill set you haven’t yet attained. For example, if you’re interviewing for a warehouse position, your weakness may be that you have limited experience working with common computer programs.
Tell a story with honest answers.
After you’ve decided which strengths and weaknesses to communicate with the interviewer, prepare your supporting evidence.
When you share your weakness, for example, be ready to explain how you intend to improve that skill. Will you enroll in classes? Read books? Hire a coach? As you explain your strengths, can you provide an example of when the strength helped you or your team achieve a goal?
A relevant story can help to build rapport during the interview process, so don’t be afraid to share a bit about yourself.
Examples of Strengths and Weaknesses for Your Next Interview
This list of examples may inspire your answers in your next interview.
- “I am intrinsically motivated to do well at work. It’s not about accolades for me, I sincerely enjoy what I do.”
- “I am flexible—whether I am working as part of a team or independently when plans change, I can too!”
- “I am disciplined with my work and will not need to be reminded of deadlines. I always make sure I get the job done.”
- “I believe I am innovative. Here’s an example of a time I reimagined one of my company’s processes to make it more efficient.”
- “I have strong communication skills. For me, an in-person or phone conversation is a more efficient way to relay messages, compared to email, instant message, or text.”
- “Sometimes, I can be overly sensitive to feedback. I recognize this in myself and I find if I take a moment to process feedback before responding, that helps.”
- “When evaluating my work, I can be self-critical, but I push myself to find the positives and celebrate those!”
- “I have been told I am too introverted, so I try to eat lunch in common areas to build relationships with my colleagues.”
- “I have been told I am too extroverted. That being said, I do try to keep personal conversations to breaks, lunch, and company outings.”
- “I understand that I lack expertise in a certain area, but I am a quick learner and eager to be an asset to the team.”
- “I recognize I am an inexperienced leader, but I am prepared to take on new experiences and responsibilities to grow in this role.”
Preparing for this common interview question is crucial to give answers that place you in the best possible light—and help you ace your next interview.
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