Interview Tips – Explaining Your Strengths And Weaknesses
If you’re in the process for applying for jobs whether it’s in person or during a video interview, you will have heard this question over and over again…
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Despite this sounding incredibly broad, it’s still a valid question and it’s important that you remain honest when describing what you are good at, and not so good at.
Many recruiters will agree that when this question is asked, the majority of candidates will reply in the same, monotonous way.
“My strengths include the fact that I work hard, focus on the task at hand and I work equally well in teams and individually. My main weakness is that I’m a perfectionist”.
This is a somewhat valid answer but this kind of response will be unlikely to impress any kind of recruiter or interviewer. It’s renowned that the majority of people will believe they are hard working individuals. In this statement, the weaknesses could be defined as a strength but again, it’s an answer that appears all too often in the interview rooms.
For a better perspective, another common answer recruiters often hear is something along the lines of;
“My main strength would be that I’m a good people person, whether that’s with other employees or customers and I don’t get stressed easily. My weakness would be that I could improve my level of focus from time to time”.
All the points in this response are extremely common and are not going to make any kind of applicant stand out to a potential employer. When referring to the weakness, the use of the word ‘could’ gives a very vague impression and can conceive the impression of doubt in the recruiter.
So how should you respond to this question in your next interview?
The majority of people will find it harder to express their weaknesses than their strengths. In most cases, this is the question most applicants dread to hear and can invoked some feeling of panic. But, in these situations, the best way to handle this is to stay calm and professional.
Some great examples of weaknesses you can mention include;
- Being too critical of yourself in the workplace from time to time
- Trying too hard to make sure everybody is happy
- Being uncertain when using some applications in a business, such as their systems or technologies
If you do panic and cannot think of anything to say, try to remember to minimize the negative in what you are saying and say something that can be easily overcome or, in some respects, can be seen as a positive. Before your interview, conduct a mock interview with yourself or with a friend or family member. Write down traits that are part of your character and then brainstorm ways to resolve them.
An example of this would be to say something along the lines of;
“I am always able to see the bigger picture when it comes to a project but I have to admit, occasionally I do miss small details. I have always ensured that there is a detail-oriented individual on my team to counteract this.”
Understand Your Own Strength!
In comparison to the above, many people take it in their stride when it comes to listing their strengths. Besides, these does mean listing the things you are good at! When answering this question in an interview situation, it’s important that you remain specific and stick to the point.
As with your weaknesses, a great idea is to write down a list of traits you possess before your interview and categorize them into one of three categories.
These categories are;
These are skills that are relevant in any job role and can cross from company to company. These type of skills include communication and people skills to planning and problem solving skills.
These are traits that are personal to you and your specific character. These traits could include anything from being flexible with good timekeeping skills to having a professional manner and the ability to work well within a team.
These category refers to any skill or knowledge you have acquired through training or education. This can cover skills such as computer skills, any languages you may know and qualifications you have earned throughout your life.
When it comes to describing your personality traits, it’s easy to get caught up and say something simple but in interviews, you really have a chance to shine out against other applicants.
Some great examples of personality traits may include;
When preparing for your upcoming interview, research what kind of qualities the job entails and match your traits so they are suitable for the role. If, for example, you are applying for a customer focused position, patience, honesty and respectfulness would be the perfect traits for you to describe.
Make sure that when you are talking about your strengths and weaknesses that you do so with confidence.
When this now not so dreaded questions arises in your interview, always keep in mind that the recruiter is looking for someone to fit their requirements. Everything you say and the way you act is building an image of you in their minds and they are constantly asking themselves if you are a suitable candidate.
The best tip we can give you is to really sell yourself. Give this interview everything you’ve got and make it one to remember!
Back up every statement you make with energy and passion, let the interviewer know what you have to offer this company.
Let them know through your weaknesses that you’re only human but you have the willpower to succeed!
Good luck with your next interview!