Your answer to the interview question “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” should align with what the company is looking for in a candidate and demonstrate your potential value as an employee using clear examples of self-improvement.
Job interviews can get personal very quickly. During your interview, after meeting an interviewer only a few minutes ago, you may be asked to provide examples of your strengths and weaknesses. Though it may seem odd, discussing your strengths and weaknesses in an interview is a great opportunity to promote yourself.
Being asked, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” in an interview is one of the most common interview questions hiring managers ask. When applying for a job, your strengths and weaknesses help an employer get a better sense of the traits that make you uniquely qualified. In this guide, we’ll discuss how you can sell your strengths and discuss your weaknesses without sounding too confident or underplaying your strengths.
Why Do Interviewers Ask: What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
Asking what your strengths and weaknesses are may seem somewhat on the nose. If an interviewer wants to get to know you better, you may think they would ask more specific questions about you and your skills. However, questions about your greatest strengths and weaknesses are not common without reason. Employers ask these questions to learn how you can add value to their business.
Above all, this question is an excellent way for an interviewer to learn about how self-aware you are. If you can come up with an effective answer, it means you are willing and able to reflect on yourself and your traits. If you can confidently detail what your strengths and weaknesses are in an interview, you’ll impress the hiring manager.
List of Strengths and Weaknesses for an Interview
Your responses to questions about your strengths and weaknesses in an interview are not so much about what you say but rather how you say it. It’s easy to say: “My main strength is my ability to communicate.” However, if you are able to give a clear example of when you used this skill with a client, you’ll set yourself apart from other candidates.
Below, we have compiled a list of strengths and weaknesses to use in an interview. Read through the examples of strengths and weaknesses below to see what resonates with you. From these, think about examples you can give the interviewer that showcase your personal strengths or detail how you work with your weaknesses.
Examples of Strengths
- Attention to detail
- Hard worker
- Technical skills
- Team player
- Self-awareness and self-reflection
- Positive attitude
- Analytical skills
- Writing skills
- People skills
- Continuous learning
- Leadership skills
- Organization skills
- Interpersonal skills
Examples of Weaknesses
- Finding it difficult to establish boundaries between work and life
- Being disorganized
- Being too rigid
- Being too competitive
- Being too independent
- Taking on too many tasks
- Lack of focus
- Being too focused
- Being too extroverted
- Being too introverted
- Feeling insecure
- Lack of confidence
- Lack of experience
How to Answer “What Are Your Strengths?”
When you are asked about what your greatest strengths are, what an employer really wants to know is what skills make you a good fit for the job and the company. The employer wants to hear from you, in your own words, what skills you have that will make you a valuable employee.
Before the job interview begins, you should read over the job description and research the company’s history and vision. You can find this information on the company’s website, its social media pages, and any other public-facing correspondence. Researching the company will help you learn what it values most and what attributes it may be looking for in its ideal candidate.
Then, when you have this information, you can use it to determine how to answer the question, “What are your strengths?” You only need to mention a few of your core strengths in your interview. The ones you do mention should be aligned with what you think the company is looking for and accurately demonstrate your value as an employee.
“What Are Your Strengths?” Example Answers
Even when you have already determined your strengths for a job interview, it can still be difficult to come up with good answers for “What are your strengths?” You want to give a strong answer that effectively demonstrates a positive quality, but how should you do this?
To help you, we have detailed answer examples for questions about what your strengths are. Pretend you are applying for a job as a marketing manager at a startup. Below are a few responses you could give if you are asked to talk about your strengths.
I would say one of my greatest strengths is my ability to work as part of a team. Toward the end of my last job, my manager gave me the opportunity to lead our efforts to streamline our email campaigns. On this project, I used my greatest strength as a team player to motivate other members of the team, and we were able to meet our goal of streamlining email campaigns on time. Our efforts led to a 15% increase in engagement on our email campaigns.
Attention to Detail
I am a very detail-oriented worker. When I work on a project, I keep a close eye on all the details and remain familiar with high-level and low-level tasks associated with the project. In my last job, my strength of attention to detail helped me identify a problem in one of our core marketing campaigns before it was released. This allowed us to mitigate the embarrassment that could have been associated with the error being published to our marketing channels.
Having strong communication skills is a strength that I am proud of. I have been a marketing associate for four years in two different industries. During that time, I have been responsible for writing clear and concise marketing copy for my employers. This has required a high degree of creative thinking, and I believe good writing makes or breaks a marketing campaign.
One of my greatest strengths is my adaptability. In marketing, I have often had clients change their minds or want to go in a different direction well into the campaign development process. I could easily let this upset me and stay attached to the work I have already done, but I have always looked at these instances as opportunities to expand my skills and challenge myself.
One of the key qualities that makes me a good team member is my positive attitude. In both personal and professional interactions, I think it is important to always approach things from a positive mindset. Whether it is giving a positive response to a difficult client or putting a positive spin on a chaotic situation, keeping things upbeat and productive is something I do well.
My biggest strength is my organization skills, which I also think is one of the practical skills that benefit me the most. Within my current team, I am always the one to take the lead and organize tasks and timelines. I find that my entire team often looks to me to make sure our workflow is both functional and efficient. In turn, this also helped me develop management skills.
Creativity is one of my greatest strengths. When working with different clients, each marketing campaign is entirely unique. Working on various creative tasks for a variety of people has pushed me to expand my creativity. I find that creating designs and content that reflect each client’s vision is one of the most exciting aspects of my work.
Strong people skills are one of my greatest strengths and one of the soft skills I find most useful. I am an empathetic person, and I have found this to be incredibly important in my professional life. My people skills help me understand other people’s personality traits and determine how to best address and work with them. This has been particularly useful in working with more demanding clients.
How to Answer “What Are Your Weaknesses?”
While it may feel unnatural to talk about your weaknesses, this is a common question that you should consider when preparing for your interview. You should spend some time reflecting on the areas in your career where you struggle. This will help you figure out how to answer, “What are your weaknesses?”
Employers do not ask about what your weaknesses are so they can identify problems with you. Rather, they ask this question to make sure you are not lacking key skills that are pertinent to the potential job. However, it is still important to know how to frame weaknesses in an interview.
When you respond to this question, you should be truthful about your weakness and end on a strong note. For instance, if you are not good at organizing your work but say you are working on it, you’ll be seen in a good light. This is because you have admitted a problem and have spoken about how you aim to address it.
“What Are Your Weaknesses?” Example Answers
Determining what weaknesses are ok to admit to in an interview is difficult. However, it is even more challenging to figure out how exactly to give an effective answer for “What is your weakness?”. You want to provide an honest answer without making it seem like it affects your ability to be a great employee.
You can try to put a positive spin on your answer about your biggest weaknesses or discuss how it is something you are working on improving. To help you answer this tricky question, we have provided “What are your weaknesses?” example answers. Below are a few examples of responses you could give, but your answers should always be specific to your own experiences.
Not Asking Enough Questions
My greatest weakness would be not asking questions to clarify the main points associated with an assignment. In my last job, I would sometimes not ask for help because I was scared it would mean I did not pay attention when the assignment was issued. Since then, I have been working to become more proactive in asking questions when an assignment has been issued.
Being Too Detail-Oriented
I often focus too much on the details of a project which can result in working at a slower rate. For instance, in my last job, I spent too much time trying to optimize my boss’ schedule. This resulted in me becoming distracted from other assignments that required my attention. After my boss missed an important meeting as a result of my perfectionism, I started to become more aware that being too detail oriented is a weakness of mine. I am presently working on finding a balance between being efficient and detail-oriented.
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Being Too Independent
I sometimes believe I can solve a problem without the help of anyone else. In many cases, working independently is an effective approach. But in the past, I encountered situations where I could have been a better employee by working with others.
Last year, I was assigned to a major restructuring of our company’s calendar practices. Instead of working with a team, I restructured my boss’ calendar by myself in accordance with the guidelines written by other assistants. This was an ineffective approach as I was not able to voice my concerns to others. Since then, I have been working to make sure I volunteer to contribute to teams when I think I can add value.
Being Too Rigid
Because I always want to perform well and reach my career goals, I have found that I can be overly rigid. At times in the past, my focus has become too intense and narrow, and I have not been able to leave room for flexibility and more creative ideas. However, I have been able to see that being too rigid within a team of people can actually harm morale.
One of my biggest focuses now is to find a better balance between creativity and perfectionism. Though I am still working on maintaining the perfect balance, I have realized that being more flexible can actually lead to more innovation and better outcomes.
One of my biggest weaknesses is that I am a classic procrastinator. It is something I am aware of though, and I have found several tools that help me stay on track so that I do not get overwhelmed before deadlines. For example, before every Monday morning, I make a schedule for each day of the week that takes into account projects, meetings, deadlines, appointments, etc.
Sticking to my daily schedules, though each one is different, helps me make sure I am devoting the proper amount of time to each task. Plus, since I am able to build variety into my schedule, I don’t get bored with what I am doing or have the urge to put off certain tasks.
Lack of Experience
I think one of my main weaknesses at this point in my career is my lack of experience. I have only been working in the field for two years, so I realize that I have limited experience and still have a lot to learn. Though I am a quick learner and always eager to challenge myself, I know that building expertise is something that takes time. I am looking forward to continuing my career journey and learning from colleagues that have more experience than me.
Taking On Too Many Tasks
I have a bad habit of taking on too many tasks. Last year, I found myself working on five separate projects, two of which were outside of my actual department. I am eager to learn and enjoy being busy, but I know that I am not able to give myself fully to my work when I take on too much. In the example of last year, I noticed that there were starting to be a lot of errors in my work.
Now, I try to make sure that every single task I take on is something that I have space to work on and commit to fully. In turn, I have also improved my delegation skills and got better at allowing other people to take on work that I would normally hoard for myself.
One of my greatest weaknesses is that I am overly self-critical. Because of this, I am sometimes afraid to ask certain questions or share my ideas. In my previous role, the team I was working on had a big problem that we needed to solve. On the first day of brainstorming, I had an idea but I didn’t think it was worth saying out loud. However, several stressful days later, a colleague mentioned the same idea and, with a few adjustments, it ended up being exactly what our team needed.
Since then, I have tried to recognize and limit my negative self-talk. Even though I am a naturally shy person, I try to push myself to share my thoughts and ideas. I have realized that I don’t need to have the perfect answer in order to speak my mind.
Interview Tips for “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”
To help you answer questions about your strengths and weaknesses, we have compiled a few tips you can use to boost your image. These interview tips for strength and weakness questions can help you come up with a thoughtful answer and nail the interview process. Use these four tips to come up with your own strengths and weaknesses answers that are unique to you.
Tip #1: Make Your Answers Insight-Driven
When you are discussing your strengths, you should make sure your answer is linked to the needs of the company and the position for which you are applying. This will make it easier for an interviewer to see the relevance of a particular skill and how it could be applied to the job.
On the other hand, when you are discussing your weaknesses, one interview tip is to make sure that you are not too critical of yourself. So, instead of just mentioning a weakness, you should try to anchor that weakness to how it has encouraged you to learn. Are you disorganized? Talk about how you are starting to learn about new productivity systems.
Tip #2: Keep Your Answers Focused
These questions will only be one of many that you’ll be asked in an interview. You don’t need to talk about every strength or weakness you have. Often, you’ll only be expected to talk about one or two strengths or weaknesses in an interview.
What matters most is that you discuss your strengths and weaknesses in depth. If you struggle to meet deadlines, talk about how you are overcoming that weakness and discuss what made you realize it. This information will be more useful to an employer than a list of weaknesses you have identified that you have.
Tip #3: Be Honest
You may be tempted to exaggerate your strengths to make yourself sound more impressive or downplay your weaknesses to make yourself appear more qualified. However, you should try to avoid doing either of these things and provide a truthful answer. This is perhaps the most important interview tip about strengths and weaknesses.
In your response to questions about your strengths and weaknesses, you should try to be honest and direct. If you know you are a procrastinator, talk about it openly and be as direct as possible. If you know you are good at working on teams, be honest about your strength, but do not go over the top when elaborating on this strength.
Tip #4: Don’t Undersell Yourself
When you are talking about your weaknesses, it is easy to enter a pattern where you start to undersell yourself. For instance, if you talk about your tendency to be late, you could easily start to spin it into a negative story that makes you sound unreliable.
Employers will ask you about your weaknesses to learn more about how self-aware you are and to see if you have any qualities that disqualify you. You don’t need to be overly self-critical. Just being aware that you are not perfect and being humble enough to share your weaknesses with someone else is enough.
Is There a Best Answer for Strength and Weakness Questions?
The best answer for strength and weakness questions is honest, insightful, and detailed. When you are asked about your strengths and weaknesses in an interview, it is not enough to simply say, “I have good people skills.” You need to demonstrate how it has affected your professional life. When talking about a weakness, you also need to talk about how you are overcoming it.
Overall, the best way to navigate questions about your strengths and weaknesses, or the “Why should we hire you?” question, is to be prepared. Before an interview begins, spend some time reflecting on what you think your strengths and weaknesses are, and be ready to provide examples. Use the tips in this article to make sure you provide the best answers about your greatest strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths and Weaknesses in Interviews FAQ
You should mention one or two strengths and weaknesses in an interview. It’s not necessary to list all of your strengths because the interviewer will see those from your resume, cover letter, and other interview questions. In addition, detailing too many weaknesses can make you seem like a bad job candidate.
What is a weakness that can be a strength?
There are several weaknesses that can actually be a strength, such as perfectionism, being too focused, and being too extroverted. You can easily put a positive spin on each of these weaknesses. For example, one weakness that is also a strength is lack of experience because you see the field with new fresh eyes, which can lead to greater innovation.
How can I prepare for behavioral interview questions?
You can prepare for behavioral interview questions by reviewing the job description and reflecting on how your own traits and experiences align with what the company is looking for. If you want to nail behavioral interview questions, you should make sure that you touch on key points that match the role and the company’s mission.
How do I make a good impression during my interview?
You can make a good impression during a job interview by being confident, smiling, making good eye contact, and providing thoughtful answers. It is also important to know what to bring to a job interview so that you arrive prepared. Other job interview tips for making a great impression include showing up on time and wearing the appropriate clothing.
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