If you’ve ever interviewed for a job, you’ve probably been asked to share your strengths and weaknesses. Even with it being one of the most common interview questions, it seems to be one that never fails to trip us up: How do we share our strengths without sounding too confident? How do we share our weaknesses without hurting our chances at a job?
This common question comes down to one simple thing: self-awareness. Interviewers often want to see that you are able to take a step back and reflect on yourself. When answering this question, you primarily want to think about a couple of key things:
This is your chance to brag about yourself, but there needs to be a balance in confidence and humbleness. You want to avoid being that person that says something like “I am the top person on my team,” because that doesn’t give yourself the chance to show you have worked hard to build your strengths, but rather comes across as arrogant. Instead, try something like, “Co-workers often look to me for leadership and advice because of my hard-work and performance.”
Additionally, you want to highlight skills that help you stand out from other applicants and try to avoid cliches or common answers (unless they directly tie to the position)! For example, having great communications skills is awesome, but is a very common answer. Unless you are applying to a communications position, it may be best to try something more specific such as verbal communication, interpersonal communication, or cross-cultural communication. This allows room for elaboration and shows much deeper thought!
Weaknesses are usually the harder of the two to answer. It takes a level of vulnerability to be able to share what you are not good at with potential employers, but it can be incredibly telling and beneficial.
So just how do you answer this without deterring your employer from you? It’s simple: show that you have room to improve. Everyone is capable of learning more and employers often want to know that they are going to be able to help you grow professionally. You do not want to bash yourself, but you do want them to know you are self-aware.
For example, something that might deter an employer from you would be “I cannot work in teams.” This is an immediate red flag in an interview because nearly every job requires teamwork. Instead, try something more specific like, “I have a hard time letting others take the lead in group settings.” These both show a positive underlying message that you are a hard worker and potential leader, but that there are specific pieces of group work you need to improve - something that can easily be worked on!
"Try to look at your weakness and convert it into into your strength. That's success."- Zig Ziglar
There are some things to keep in mind when answering questions about both strengths and weaknesses. First and foremost being that the best thing you can do is be truthful. Not only will your interviewer eventually figure out if you told the truth, but it can only help you to be honest. Interviewers know the position best and know what qualities thrive in the position, so you want to be honest so that they can help you find the position that best fits you.
Another great thing to keep in mind is what examples can you use to support your answer. It’s great that you're able to see where you succeed or need to improve, but interviewers often want to know what experiences you may have had to come to these conclusions. Your answers here often lead to answers to other questions such as, “give an example of a time you had to overcome adversity,” or “what is something you have accomplished you are proud of?” Really knowing yourself makes interviewing that much easier!
Overall, take the chance to look at these two things as an opportunity to show the interviewer who you are as a worker. Showcasing your strengths tells them how you stand apart from others, while your weaknesses help them see that you are able to reflect on yourself and have room to improve.