How to answer strengths / weaknesses question

How to answer the strengths/weaknesses question in a job interview It’s the question every interviewee fears: “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” It may come as several questions, such as, “What’s your greatest strength?” and “Which area would you say you’re weakest in?” It’s a question you should always bank on the interviewer asking in…

How to answer the strengths/weaknesses question in a job interview

It’s the question every interviewee fears: “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” It may come as several questions, such as, “What’s your greatest strength?” and “Which area would you say you’re weakest in?” It’s a question you should always bank on the interviewer asking in some form, as it’s a good way for them to get a complete picture of who you are and how you might operate on the job.

The good news is, if you expect the strengths and weaknesses question, you can plan and prep for it. Here are some tips and scripts to use when this type of question pops up.

Tip 1: Be honest

Being upfront and thoughtful is important when answering the strengths and weaknesses question. If you struggle to admit to weaknesses, that may suggest to the interviewer that you don’t have much self-awareness. And ultimately, an employer wants to hire someone who knows who they are, and along with understanding what they can bring to the table in terms of the role, also recognises what they might need to work on or undertake training for.

A way to answer both parts of the question might be, “I’m really strong in hitting deadlines and following a brief, but sometimes I can take on too much instead of delegating. This is something I’m working on improving, as I know solid teamwork can mean better efficiency on projects overall”.

Tip 2: Explain yourself

Telling a story or anecdote that outlines your strengths and weaknesses can keep the interviewer interested and give more context to your answer, say experts.

For example, you might detail how you managed a challenging situation, such as, “I remember one time, our CEO asked me to overhaul a Powerpoint document in time for an important presentation., as they’d decided to change direction at the last minute. I managed it and the presentation went off very well. I guess that points to a strength of mine – that I tend to work well under pressure”.

Tip 3: Talk about what you’ve learned

If you’re telling a story about something that went wrong, make sure you talk about what you learned from it and what the outcome was – so the interview knows you have the potential for growth and improvement on the job.

If you’re answering a question about weaknesses when going for a retail position, for example, you might say, “I can be quite a shy person, which can make dealing with certain customers situations tricky at times. I ended up taking a drama class, which really raised my confidence – and I also had training on dealing with all kinds of customers, which helped as well.

Tip 4: Be careful choosing weaknesses

While it’s easy to align your strengths with the job spec, you may have to do some fancy footwork when it comes to mentioning weaknesses.

Ultimately, you want the hiring manager to think you’re a good fit for the role, not worry that you have a weakness that might affect your ability to do the job. For example, if the company is looking for a hospitality manager, you wouldn’t say, “One weakness I have is my technical skills – it has taken me time in the past to get to grips with different point-of-sale systems, but I’ve managed to learn them in the end”. That won’t add up to a vote of confidence with any restaurateur who expects you to hit the ground running!

Tip 5: Don’t go overboard

While it’s easy to sweat about the strengths and weaknesses question, it’s only one aspect of the whole interview, so keep your answers short and insightful for the interviewer.

Some experts suggest knowing as much about the company and its pain points as possible, so you can use your answers to this type of question to present yourself as confident, solutions-focused and open to building on your existing skillset.