How to tackle the inevitable interview question: "What are your strengths and weaknesses?"

March 13th, 2018

There comes a time in every interview for the age-old question about strengths and weaknesses. No matter what kind of job one is applying for, this question is a must. It is a classic interview question and seems simple enough to answer but must be tread carefully.

"What are your strengths?" seems like a basic, run of the mill question but many candidates are unable to answer it well. It needs to be answered with caution as it can make the candidate sound too humble or too arrogant. Following are a few ways to tackle this question:

A major area that is affected is the morale of the employee. When managers are constantly rude and uncivil to the employees in their team, it can lead to depletion in the employee’s mental resources. Employees going through this then tend to be rude to each other as well. This is what leads to a toxic work environment. As rudeness and impoliteness is contagious, it spreads to everyone surrounded by it. Being rude to tends to make one rude towards as well. There are many mistakes a manager may make that has a negative impact on the employees, these should be avoided at all costs:

1. Match the key requirements of the job:

It is important to answer this question keeping in mind the skill set needed for that particular profile. Identify the key requirements and emphasize on your strengths that best match them.

2. Focus on quality, not quantity:

Stating a long list of strengths is not going to impress the interviewer. Instead, focus on few points that really stand out and are able to portray your personality in the best manner possible.

3. Exemplify each strength:

Always state examples for each strength. A concrete example to support each point will help the interviewer, as he does not know you.

4. Explain the relevance of your strengths to the job:

With each strength focus on how it will benefit the job at hand. This will help the interviewer also think in the similar manner.

5. Maintain a balance between arrogance and humility:

Make sure neither to be over confident nor undersell yourself. Provide the interviewer with adequate information rather than talking too much or too little about yourself.

The second half of the question is "What are your weaknesses?" which is also a tricky one. Most candidates find it difficult to openly admit their flaws while interviewing for a job. Nonetheless, this question is an important one and can be handled following these few steps:

1. Treat your weaknesses as areas of improvement:

Avoid using the term ‘weakness’ while answering the question. Instead, turn your weaknesses into areas of improvement or knowledge gaps. This will show that you’re willing to change and work on your flaws.

2. Explain why it is a weakness:

Substantiate your point with a reason explaining why it is your weakness. Along with this also explain what kind of effect it has had on your work. This will show that you are well aware of your flaws and where they hold you back.

3. Don’t sound defensive:

Avoid sounding defensive while stating your weaknesses. Justifying why you are the way you are will not work in your favor. Instead, state them in a concise and neutral way.

4. Explain how you’re addressing the weakness:

Admit that you lack in certain areas and follow it up by explaining what you’re doing to improve. Talk about ways in which you’re working to improve and turn that weakness into strength.

5. Talk about what you aim to achieve in the future:

Along with how you’re addressing the weakness, also explain you future goals. Explaining how you hope to battle your weakness and not let it hold you back will portray self-confidence.