We’ve all panicked when this question comes up in an interview: “What would you say are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?”. Highlighting your strengths and weaknesses within an interview is standard practice employers want to know how self-aware you are. Because this question is so frequently asked during the interview process, why not prepare beforehand? Read on for some strategic ways to answer this common interview question.
Before your interview, pick 2-3 strengths and weaknesses that you feel you can really expand on during the interview process. When choosing your strengths and weaknesses it is important not to be too general as especially when this comes to weaknesses this may seem evasive. Some examples of weaknesses that are too general are “I work too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist.” These are weaknesses that every hiring manager has heard countless times and they don’t add value to helping you stand out.
Here are some additional overused weaknesses to avoid:
• Being a workaholic
• Saying that you’re competitive
• Saying that you care too much about your work
• “I don’t have any weaknesses”
Now that we know what not to say, let’s get into the right way to answer this question.
Answering what your strengths are is arguably the easier part of the question. This is the part of the interview where you can really bolster yourself and your skills. Pick out key criteria mentioned in the job posting and tie them back to your own experience. It is important not just to name the skill and move on to the next but to expand on how you have demonstrated these skills in the past.
For example, you’re a strong communicator and have experience in a leadership role. What are some of the strategies you implemented to create stronger lines of communication between your colleagues? How did the work you delivered improve? These are a few other examples of skills to highlight:
• Creative thinking
When discussing your weaknesses before heading into the interview, think of tangible steps you are taking to improve upon them. This way when answering the question, the
interviewer will see that you are not only proactive but also, you’re able to take constructive feedback and implement it.
Perhaps you’re in a more corporate role where you are responsible for making quarterly presentations and this has been something you are trying to improve on. A great way to structure your answer is to say something like, “I’ve been told by some of my colleagues that I need to work on my public speaking and presentation skills. I’ve taken it upon myself to start preparing my presentations further in advance to give myself more time to absorb the content, pre-record myself when prepping to pick up on any nervous tendencies I have, and I’ve also done research on how to engage an audience and plan to implement these tactics into my future presentations.” The structure of this answer brings you full circle, showing your weakness, how you’ve taken the feedback, reflected, and are now working to improve.
We all get the interview jitters, it’s completely normal. But being able to foresee a question like this will ease your anxiety. Although talking about your weaknesses may seem daunting, try not to overthink it. Remember, no one is an expert in all areas of their job. The most important thing is that you’re aware and consistently trying to better yourself to be the best you can be!
Are you looking for a seasoned professional to review your application before hitting the apply button? Style Nine to Five has you covered with our Job Application Review offering. Founder Christie Lohr will personally review your resume, cover letter and portfolio to make sure your application is just what the company is looking for.
Demetra Maragos – Demetra is a Master of Arts candidate at New York University, who loves thinking outside of conventional lines to combine her passions of everything culture, fashion and lifestyle.