How many job interviews have you been to and, when asked to name your strengths and weaknesses, you’ve had to put in huge effort to answer? 

When you’re interviewing for a job, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be asked this question about your strengths and weaknesses. It’s a excellent question that covers a lot of important information. 

How you answer can reveal if you’re qualified for the position and whether you’re honest and self-aware.

I always suggest that as a candidate, you look at it as an opportunity to demonstrate why you’re a top candidate for the job

Use it as an opportunity to express your personality and describe what you can contribute to your potential new employer.

Are you ready to talk about your personal strengths and weaknesses? 

You can use these tips that I’ve gleaned over my own career of interviewing and being the interview assessor, to develop a concise and compelling answers that will convince the interviewing manager that you’re a great match.

Discussing Your Weaknesses During a Job Interview:

Firstly, I would suggest that you see them as your development areas. Don’t use the term ‘weaknesses’, even if the interviewer does. You get to turn your development areas into positives. during the job interview,

  1. Be prepared. You’ll make a more positive impression if you rehearse your response rather than trying to invent something on the spot. Write out some talking points and key words that you want to use.
  2. Stay relevant. Pick development areas that are clearly related to a work setting AND the position that you’re seeking. Also, make sure to review the job description / person specification and pick out the requirements of the job. Customise your answers as much as possible.
  3. Focus on growth. While you’re discussing possible flaws, you can still end on a high note. This will let the interviewer know what you’ve learned from past experience, and what you’re doing to strengthen your capabilities and performance.
  4. Avoid deal breakers. Avoid meaningless clichés, like saying you’re a perfectionist, and think twice about saying anything that would remove you from consideration. For example, struggling with lateness is difficult to overlook if you want to attend client appointments.
  5. Tell a story. Use anecdotes to illustrate your strengths and development areas. Follow the usual guidelines for effective stories, including sticking to the point and proceeding in a logical order. Make it relevant and relate it to the point you are making.
  6. Do your research. If you’re having trouble evaluating yourself, ask your friends and colleagues. You can also find many resources online with lists of sample strengths and ‘weaknesses’.

Discussing Your Strengths During a Job Interview:

  1. Sound confident. Much of the advice for talking about your development areas applies to strengths too, with some additional considerations. Work at sounding confident and assured without coming across as arrogant or underestimating yourself. You can do this simply by smiling a little
  2. Stand out. Maximise this opportunity for letting the interviewer know what special qualities you bring to the table. Focus on skills and traits that you have that closely match the job description and work carefully on your presentation.
  3. Be truthful. Resist any temptation to exaggerate. It’s vital that you ensure that you can back up your claims and deliver on what you’re promising if you are recruited.
  4. Be specific. While you can find sample language online, you’ll need to tailor your strengths to your own situation. Clarify what leadership abilities or software skills you possess. As with weaknesses, tell stories that demonstrate your accomplishments in past positions.
  5. Bring a list. While you’ll probably want to discuss only 2 or 3 specific strengths in any one interview, it helps to have a few backup options too. You may discover information during the interview that makes one of your stories more or less persuasive.
  6. Look ahead. Spell out how you can use your talents in your new workplace if the company decides to bring you on board. Your interviewer wants to know what positive impact you can have for them.
  7. Show enthusiasm. Attitude matters as much as hard and soft skills. While you’re delivering your message, pay attention to how you’re saying it. Let your interest and excitement show.

Walk into your next job interview prepared to discuss your strengths and development areas. You’ll be far more likely to receive a job offer, and you’ll have a sound basis for evaluating whether the position will be satisfying for you.

Image – Phil Gouw

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