How to identify your strengths and weaknesses:
Prepare your answers, otherwise you could say the wrong thing under pressure
Avoid using habits as a weakness
Use examples of weaknesses that can be worked on
Be self-aware and honest
Don’t say that you have no weaknesses – there is always room for improvement
Don’t give basic, routine answers
Use both knowledge based and personal skills – the employer isn’t just looking for the knowledge
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?” How to answer that one question that’s guaranteed you will be asked in an interview.
If you have ever had a job interview there is a pretty high chance you have been asked about your strengths and weaknesses. It is one of the most commonly asked questions whatever level or type of role you are applying for. The interviewer is asking you because they want to know several things;
You are self-aware and open to identifying areas for improvement.
That your skills work well with the team, that you can compensate for others’ weaknesses and vice versa.
How you handle challenges, especially under pressure.
Over the years, managers or interviewers have probably heard similar answers time and time again. Our advice is to not be complacent even if you have answered the question multiple times before. In fact, you need to pay even more attention to preparing so your answers are relevant, honest and stand out from the crowd.
Pick the strengths you have that are also relevant to the role you are applying for. On the basis that any technical skills you need have already got you to this stage, remember that this is about you, your soft skills and personality. Use the STAR method (situation, task, action, result) to give examples and really bring to life how your strengths help you in your role.
Some of the typical strengths employers will be looking for are;
Team building and collaboration
Taking ownership and accountability
Attention to detail
In each case you can take the skill and frame your answer so you give a real example of how you practically apply that skill to be better at your job.
“One of my key strengths is project management. I enjoy overseeing a task from beginning to end, collaborating with everyone to jointly achieve our goals, being organised, working to deadlines and keeping to budgets. A recent example where my skills made a real difference was …”
When it comes to speaking about your weaknesses, there are many cliché answers that interviewers would have heard multiple times over! We would advise you to always be truthful, don’t try and be too clever, just be yourself and be humble. The interviewer is not looking to catch you out, they are looking for evidence of self-awareness and the ability to learn from your mistakes. They are also considering if they can compensate for any weaknesses with other people in the team.
Weaknesses also need to not be critical to the role you are interviewing for, but some typical examples are;
A knowledge gap
The best way to describe your weakness is as a challenge that you can overcome. Provide an example where possible.
“One area I find challenging is staying up to date with the latest software and technology. It could slow me down, but I know when I take the time to learn something new it comes embedded very quickly. So when it comes to new software, I will make sure I put time in my diary for training, asking for help where I need it.”