Describing personal strengths and weaknesses in a job interview


Describing personal strengths and weaknesses in a job interview

Tips to handle a commonly asked interview question effectively.

Out of the numerous behavioral interview questions, the question about strengths and weaknesses stands out among interviewers’ choices. On the other hand, this is one of the interview questions that require thorough pre-preparation by interviewees. Yes indeed, speaking about strengths and weaknesses can become a bit overwhelming and heart thumping. However, this interview question could be tactfully tackled just like the other mind-numbing interview questions by following an effective approach. This question is much easier to be answered when we focus on the purpose of it being asked at interviews. Let’s discuss further how we can put together an answer that would make a strong positive impact on your candidacy.

The purpose of this question

The main purpose of these kinds of behavioral interview questions is to get to know the interviewee better. The interviewer gets the ability to get a deeper insight into the candidate by questioning about their strengths and weaknesses. Based on the answers the candidate provides, the interviewer is doing a thorough evaluation and coming to a decision on whether they are choosing the ideal candidate for the vacant post. Therefore, it is important to be mindful that the answers that you give here and the way you describe yourself will make or break the opportunity for you. A valuable tip on how to put a start here would be to get familiar with the job description published by the recruiter and align your strengths and weaknesses in a way that supports you to be a good fit for the role. Look into the list of responsibilities pointed out and check if you have a couple of strengths to back them up in an interesting way to grab the interviewer’s attention. Always keep in mind that the strengths you showcase will act as your key selling points when it comes to selling yourself to the interviewer, so make sure to be precise on what qualities you bring up to showcase you.

Reviewing your strengths

After you are clear with the purpose of the question, the next thing would be to list down and review the strengths that you can bring to the show. Obviously, the strengths you possess should be rooted in the skills you have mastered throughout your career journey. An ideal approach to try is to categorize these skills first into three groups of personal traits, knowledge-based and transferable skills. By doing so, you will have a clear idea of the strengths that you can tie up to the answer. Personal traits are always a good choice to consider that would derive some interesting strengths. Likewise, transferable skills like leadership and people will also make an ideal choice to tie up emotionally as strengths. Make sure to list down a few strengths that can be backed with real-life experiences to make your answer interesting.

Reviewing your weaknesses

The approach that works for weaknesses will be different from what we used for strengths. The interviewer intends to assess the candidates’ ability to improve themselves, their self-awareness, and most importantly their honesty. A recommended way to list a couple of weaknesses would be to focus on the limitations you have encountered during the work that has challenged you. Again, make sure to cross-check your list with the job description to see if you have included any point that does not align well with the essentials of the job description. A couple of valid examples for weaknesses are as follows: lack of experience in a non-essential, habit of overloading yourself with responsibilities, and being hesitant in delegating tasks.

Putting together an honest answer

Now that you have listed all your strengths and weaknesses, and shortlisted whatever you think will work well for you, the next step is to put everything together in an interesting way. The very first point that requires your attention is to maintain honesty throughout your answer. Recruiters and interviewers prefer to hear authentic answers which are genuine. Emphasize how your strengths have helped you achieve milestones along your way. Likewise, describe how you have identified your weaknesses and explain the measures you have taken to gradually overcome those weaknesses. Moreover, mentioning that you have no weaknesses will have a negative impact on your candidacy; therefore, you should always list out and explain your weaknesses as well.

Having a good combo

Another interesting approach to try is having a good combination of your strengths and weaknesses. You can start with a character trait you have mastered and an instance where it has led to one of your weaknesses as a result of being extreme in the trait. A suitable example would be, the strength of seeing the bigger picture gives you the ability to proactively come up with an action plan faster than anyone else, but there can be chances where it leads to friction and frustration among other team members. Similarly, your strength can be paying an ample amount of attention to detail where sometimes it eventually leads to mismanagement of time.

In conclusion

Lastly, tying up an interesting personal experience from your career journey will definitely enhance the quality of your answer. Moreover, it is a well-known fact that a listener seems to understand better when situations are briefed in a flow of a story. Therefore, do not be hesitant to bring out one of your best career experiences where your strengths and weaknesses have impacted on. Most importantly, remember to always add enough insights as you progress with each point and try to keep your story short with enough details. You will need a couple of practice sessions before your interview, so once you finalize your lists and answers, practice your answers to get thorough and develop confidence. Additionally, please be aware that recruiters are largely impressed with candidates who have enough self-awareness to understand that they do not have to be perfect; and who are willing to take initiatives to improve themselves.



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