During a job interview, it’s common for interviewers to ask a couple of questions about your strengths and weaknesses. These types of interview questions can be tricky if they catch you off guard. They are therefore considered one of the tougher interview questions of job interviews.
You can use questions about your strengths and weaknesses to your advantage by preparing the right way. If you prepare strong answers to questions that you expect based on your research, it’s more likely that you make a strong impression and advance to the next interview rounds.
There are different reasons why interview questions ask you about your strengths and weaknesses. However, the main reason is that they want to assess how well you fit the position and company.
In this blog, we discuss interview sales interview questions. Also, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.
Why Interviewers Ask You About Strengths & Weaknesses
As discussed earlier, it’s almost certain that you will get a question about strengths and weaknesses in one form or another during a job interview. Before a hiring decision is made, employers want to assess how well a job candidate fit’s the company culture and how well they fit the position.
Hiring managers want to know if you’re self-aware. They want to hear you talk about what you’re good at and what your improvement areas are. Therefore, in order to impress an interviewer, your answers need to align with the requirements for the position that you’re applying for.
The best way to do this is by using real-life work situations to give your answers more weight. This means that your answers should include strong skills that can be supported through actual work experiences.
For example, if you list leadership as a key strength, it’s important that you can recall times when you successfully demonstrated your leadership skills to resolve a problem or reach a goal.
Interviewers can use three types of interview questions to uncover how well you fit the company culture:
Interview Questions About Your Cultural Fit
Cultural fit interview questions are used to assess how compatible you are with the company culture. Candidates who fit the company culture share the same values and are more likely to thrive in the work environment of the organization.
In short, employers want to hire candidates for culture fit as they are more likely to thrive in their work environment. This is also the reason why interviewers will always ask you a set of cultural fit related interview questions to figure out if you’re culturally a good fit for their company.
These questions are asked regardless of the position that a company is looking to fill. The interviewer is interested in the type of work environment in which you can really give your best and where you are most productive.
Discussing your strengths and weaknesses helps the interviewer get a better idea of the value that you can add to the company but also what they can offer you to make you grow as a professional.
Learn more about cultural interview questions and how to answer them.
Interview Questions About Skills
These questions are used to assess your skills, work behavior, and knowledge. Most of the time, these are behavioral interview questions that require you to answer with an example situation that you experienced during your work.
Questions about how you have used your skills help interviewers understand how you’ve dealt with situations, tasks, and other people in the past. Competency-based interview questions are designed to let you do the talking.
These questions require you to explain why you made certain decisions, how you implemented your decisions, and what results were achieved. Your answers to competency-based interview questions reveal a lot about your personality, skills, and work behavior.
By assessing your past performance, the interviewers are trying to gauge your potential future performance. Furthermore, it allows them to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Based on this assessment, employers make decisions on whether or not your skills fit the position if you’re at the right professional level, and if you have the potential to grow.
Learn more about competency-based interview questions and how to answer them.
How to Answer: What Is Your Greatest Strength?
During your interview preparation, it’s smart to already think about times you successfully demonstrated the skills and abilities that are required for the position you’re applying for. This way, you tell the interviewers exactly what they want to hear. This goes for interview questions about your strengths as well.
You need to make sure that you are able to support the skills you list as your strengths through clear work experiences. The best way to answer a question such as ‘ What is your greatest strength?’ is by giving a concise and to the point answer.
So, what skills should you discuss? This, of course, depends very much on the position you’re applying for, the job level, and industry the company is active in. However, there are skills that are important in any position. Think, for instance, of communication skills. You need to make sure that your answers demonstrate that you are up to the tasks you will face if you get hired.
Assessing Your Strengths
When you’re discussing your strengths during a job interview, it’s all about being specific and highlighting your skills. Therefore, prior to your interview, create a list of strengths and list them in order of importance in relation to the position you’re applying for. You can use knowledge-based skills, transferable skills, or personal traits.
Examples of Strengths:
- Leadership Skills
- Communication Skills
- Creative Thinking Skills
- Management Skills
- Problem-solving Skills
- Honesty & Integrity
- Teamwork Skills
- Time Management Skills
For every strength you want to discuss; you can write down a story that highlights how you effectively used that strength to achieve something.
Example Answer: What Is Your Greatest Strength?
‘I consider my communication skills to be one of my greatest strengths. During my time as a team manager, I successfully managed projects between different departments.
I also organized training programs for the teams to make sure that everybody knew exactly who they were working with and what they were responsible for.
As a result, we were able to increase productivity and output by 20% within three months.’
How to Answer: What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
Just like interviewers are interested in your strengths, they also want to know more about areas that need improvement. By asking this question, interviewers get a better understanding of your self-awareness and honesty.
The interviewers expect you to have weaknesses, so it’s important that you’re ready to discuss them. A strong answer consists of you demonstrating that you have a growth mindset, that you’re honest and self-aware of what your development areas are.
During your interview preparation, you can think of the weaknesses that you could discuss during your interview. For every weakness, you can write down a story that explains how that weakness impacts your career currently, what you learned from it, and what you’re actively doing to improve it.
Take into consideration that, especially for weakness interview questions, framing is essential. You do not want to accidentally talk yourself into trouble, for example, by making it seem that weakness is immutable.
Assessing Your Weaknesses
Everybody has weaknesses, and during a job interview, you should be able to discuss them. This shows that you’re self-aware and that you’ve prepared for the interview. Below we discuss a couple of weaknesses.
Examples of weaknesses:
- Public Speaking Skills
- Taking Criticism
- Lack of Confidence
- Lack of Experience
The best way to handle interview questions about weaknesses is by minimizing the trait and focusing on the positive. When you pick a weakness, make sure it’s not an essential trait required for the position. Also, stay away from personal qualities and emphasize your professional traits, that you are working on to overcome.
Example Answer: What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
‘I’m very focused when it comes to working on projects, and for me personally, it’s important to work according to set deadlines and keeping them. However, for example, if I’m working on a project and I’m assigned to smaller new tasks in between that I can finish quickly, I put the initial project on hold and work on the new project. What I’ve noticed is that if I switch gears often during a workday, this prevents me from delivering the best work on projects that require focus for a longer period.
I’m currently working on my planning and prioritizing skills by following a project management course to structure my workdays as effectively as possible. I already see the results of this course, and I’m becoming more efficient and effective at my job while being able to manage my time better as well. This way, everything I work on gets the attention it needs to provide the best possible results.’
Tips To Answer Strengths & Weaknesses Interview Questions
There are a couple of things to take into account when you prepare for interview questions about your strengths and weaknesses.
Honesty is key
Most interviewers are experienced in having job interviews. Therefore, they will notice if you made a story up. A genuine, authentic, and well-thought-out answer will impress the interviewer. They know that everybody has weaknesses. They want you to discuss yours and show that you’re self-aware plus that you’re actively working on improving yourself.
Learn more about demonstrating honesty & integrity.
Use real-life examples to give your answers more weight
Whenever you can use a real-life example, this always helps contextualize your story. The most effective way to structure your answer in the form of a story is by using the STAR interview technique.
STAR is an acronym that stands for the situation you were in, the tasks you had, the actions you took, and the results you got from your actions. It’s basically a logical way to walk the interviewer through a situation without losing sight of mentioning important details.
Learn more about the STAR interview technique.
Provide relevant details regarding the situation
Give the interviewers an insight into the situation. The reason to focus on this is that the last part of your answer should match whatever skill you’re discussing to the position and company where you’re applying.
Learn more about discussing work experiences.
Keep it short and concise
Focus on your goal: demonstrating that you’re self-aware. Focus on quality, not quantity. Keep your answers relatively short, and discuss one or two strengths or weaknesses.
Common Job Interview Questions & Answers
Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!
- Career Change
- Career Goals
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Cultural Fit
- Customer Service
- Growth Potential
- Honesty & Integrity
- Job Satisfaction
- Entry-Level & No experience
- Prioritization & Time Management
- Situational & Scenario-based
- Stress Management
- Telephone Interview
- Work Ethic