strength and weaknesses in an Interview


 
 
 
 
 

 

Explaining Strengths and Weaknesses in an Interview

Nobody is perfect!!

You must remember that nobody is perfect and that this possible employer knows that.

A really great way of telling someone about a flaw is to always add a suggestion of improving that flaw. For example you could say, ” I’m always told that I am a bit too slow… but that’s only because I want to do the best job I can. I guess you could say I’m a bit anal when it comes to perfection.” An employer can only look at that as being a great characteristic, and in no way a negative quality to possess. 

Talking about your strengths is a tricky one; you do not want to come across as egotistical. From my interviewee, an excellent answer I like to get is this: ” I am very headstrong. I really like to be challenged in my job, and I just want to learn as much as I can in my position. At the end of the day I need to be able to look back on my day and feel good about the job that I’ve done. I guess you could call it sense of self worth. That’s why I always put my all into everything I do.” 

Here is more input and examples people have given for strengths:

  • Your strengths should already be noted in your resume and cover letter. Go over them (i.e., the strengths) again with the interviewer.
  • One of my biggest strengths is my communication skills. I work very well with all kinds of people, and understand that everyone has different perspectives about projects and work tasks – so when I work with others I realize that everyone comes to the table with different priorities and objectives. I keep this in mind when I communicate tasks that need to be accomplished with positive reinforcement and awareness of what others are working on.
  • positive attitude will not differentiate you from the crowd. A good attitude is expected of every employee. Also you should back up what you say with an example. For example, don’t just say you have good customer service skills prove it by also telling them how you won a company award or received positive customer comment letters for your good service.
  • My strength is my flexibility to handle change. As customer service manager at my last job, I was able to turn around a negative working environment and develop a very supportive team.
  • Hard worker
  • Punctual
  • Determined
  • Able to prioritize
  • Believe in myself; self-confidence
  • I have the ability to cope with failures and try to learn from my mistakes.
  • I like to work in team and have been an active participant and organizer at several places.
  • One of my greatest strengths I’ve acquired during my education is good analytical and planning skills. This has always benefited me to set goals and try to achieve them. But at the same time, I’m driven by the thoughts of success.
  • Full commitment to my work
  • Highly energetic
  • Love to learn new things.
  • Having good interpersonal skills
  • Well organized and like to be neat with all of my work
  • A good helper towards those who need it
  • I am a team player and work well with others.
  • I have great communication skills.
  • I am a quick learner. I have great problem-solving skills and am willing to learn new things to get the job done.

Here are notes and examples of weaknesses:

  • You should answer with things you “are improving upon,” e.g., “I believe I should always be improving upon myself, good or bad.” You are answering the dreaded question without looking like an egotistical maniac, and showing the interviewer that you see yourself as a work in progress, trying to better all of your qualities.
  • For your weakness, just pick one that is not going to disqualify you from the job, and then follow up with – this is what really matters – the examples of what you are doing (or have done) to fix your weakness. The most important point here is to show that you learn from your mistakes and your weakness, and you are taking the corrective action to fix the situation – and stress that! For example, if the job does not require public speaking, you can say that your weakness is you are afraid of speaking in front of the public. Then tell the interviewers that you have joined a Toastmaster club or public speech course to overcome the problem. Remind them that when you identify a problem, you actively take actions to correct it, and that is how you do things.
  • Don’t try to use a cliche or try to present a strength as a weakness by saying your weakness is that you are a workaholic. No one will believe that answer. Being too emotional will make the recruiter wonder if your interpersonal skills are lacking. Give a true weakness but one of modest size. Shows that you have taken steps to correct the weakness. For example you want to improve your MS Excel skills so you are taking a course on that now.
  • I used to have trouble with procrastinating, now I have learned to write down a list of things that I need to do, and keep a calender to keep track of deadlines. I have found that this not only helps me to finish things on time, but it has also helped me to be more organized.
  • For my weakness, I always say that some people say I’m over-friendly. You can’t go wrong with that one. Usually, the person interviewing is like “Oh, that’s not a bad thing at all.”
  • I’m a little egoistic when it comes to winning things and get a little ruthless too.
  • lose patience sometimes when I am not in a position to complete the assigned job in time.
  • I have to work on having more patience and giving myself a break, because I always want everything done at once.
  • Tend to go to any limits while helping my friends.
  • I am too focused on my work and I need to find more time to relax.
  • I’m too focused on work and need to develop some after-hours hobbies. 

And examples of combination strength-weakness answers:

  • I’m a workaholic person and love to dedicate myself to the work I’m doing. But at the same time I forget to keep a balance between other things which I’m trying to improve on.
  • Take whatever is your best quality and also describe it as your worst. It often is, as we are all made up like two sides of a coin. Try it out with different qualities and accomplishments and see how it works. For example … The best thing about me is that I am able to see the big picture in a situation. The worst thing about me is that I can see the big picture in a situation. This is the best thing because I can remove myself from the emotion of a decision that needs to be made and act accordingly. It is a bad thing because I often can see the conclusion quicker than the other participants in a project and that can cause frustration sometimes amongst them.
  • My strength is my flexibility to handle change. As Software developer at my last job, I was able to turn around a negative working environment and develop a very supportive team. Always turn weakness into a positive. If you lack experience or skills for example state this but also state that you are willing to learn, or that it is an area which you would like to improve on. 

    Example 1: 
    “I do not have much experience with customer service, but I would like to gain experience in this area. I get along well with people, I am able to listen and am a good communicator so I feel that I would get on well in a customer based environment.” 

    Example 2: 
    “I am not too experienced with computers, but I am always willing to learn new skills. I have used computers a little in the past and this is one area which I would like to improve on. I am usually very quick at picking up new skills especially when it is something that I need to learn.” 

    Notes on interviewing

  • This question unfortunately has become a staple in the interview process and is an easy way out for an interviewer who can’t think of any other questions. The reason this is a bad question is simply this: If someone has a weakness that could jeopardize his chance of getting the job, he will never reveal it. So the only answers that this question receives are false answers intended to placate the interviewer. A good interviewer won’t ask this question. I’m always tempted to answer this way: “Mr. Interviewer, I always have a hard time with that question. What would your answer be to the question?”
  • A good interviewer wouldn’t dream of asking someone this question. As the interviewer, you will not get truthful answers from the weakness part of the question, and as the interviewee, you can end up coming across as egotistical and boastful when answering about your strengths. A good interviewer shouldn’t want to make you uncomfortable.


Answer Sample

“My strengths are my ability to be flexible; I’ve seen companies go through changes in structure and management philosophy. I’ve had to adjust my style to the new environment several times. My weakness is my tendency to over-work so I pace myself now.” 
The key is to turn the weakness – a negative character trait – into something positive. 


No trick: Honesty is the best policy

Whatever you do, tell the truth. While there are certainly answers that interviewers prefer to hear, it has to match reality. Why? First, it’s generally not good to get hired for a job that you’re not matched well for. If you like new, exciting, dynamic situations but you’re looking for a job on an assembly line, you’re not going to be happy; saying that you like repetitive work doesn’t make sense. Second, any good interviewer will check your references. If your answers don’t match what they hear, you’re almost certain to lose the chance for job. 
Don’t ever list as a weakness the following: “I take on too many things and work to hard, and just don’t know where to stop.” It’s a cliche, completely transparent, and I can tell you that it rarely makes the desired impression. 


Another opinion

This question is usually asked by prospective employers from candidates applying to them for employment. To answer this question the following procedure should be helpful: 
1) Find out what nature of work “the team” in question does. 
2) Assuming you are interested in that type of work, list what formal training courses you have taken and qualifications acquired in that field or a related field. Next, mention whatever practical experience you in the field. List any relevant worthwhile achievements you have made. Such specifics will carry lot of weight. 
3) As a general plus point, say that you are a team worker and get on well with others, if you feel this is true. 


An interviewer’s perspective

I ask this question and whenever I get an answer like “I work too hard” I know I’m dealing with somebody that I can’t really trust, and that I’m going to have a hard time developing an open and honest working relationship with. And I know that I still don’t know the person’s other weaknesses. 

At least with me, an interviewee has a much better chance if I think he or she is honestly telling me about a weakness. And then I can decide whether or not I can work around that weakness. One person told me that he needs fixed deadlines because otherwise he keeps finding additional things to add and it’s hard for him to finish the project. I decided this was something I could live with and I hired him. We all have weaknesses. And if you think you’re going to outsmart me with nonsense or evasion, you’re hurting your chances with me.

Note: There are comments associated with this question. See the discussion page to add to the conversation

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