I remember the first time I ever went in for an interview the interviewer asked, “What would you say is your strength and weakness?” I was tongue-tied for half a minute. What was racing in my mind then was how do I say what I’m not good at without looking terrible and say what I am good at without bragging? I ended up giving the interviewer one strength which I was not sure of and passing on the weakness with the excuse that I could not think of any.
It is good to know that this question is mostly asked because the recruitment team wants to know what you see as your strengths and weaknesses. They are always on the lookout on how you respond to a challenging question. The interviewers look for honesty, self- awareness and the ability to learn from mistakes. They try to get past your nice, presentable interview façade and get a sense of what you are really like to work with (the good, the bad and the ugly).
The hardest part of this question for most people is the weakness. Almost everybody is able to maneuver the strength aspect of their lives. If you are not sure about your strengths, ask some of your friends or colleagues what they see as your best qualities. You can also refer to any written feedback you’ve received in the past from peers or managers. Some strengths include; Creative, Action-oriented, Enthusiastic, Flexible, Patient, Collaborative, etc. Always ensure your strengths support the job description and set you apart as a candidate.
How does one answer, “What is your greatest weakness?” We all have weakness but we rarely want to admit to them. Some examples of weaknesses include; Self- critical, Shy, Competitive, Take on too much responsibility, Not detail-oriented, Not skilled at delegating tasks, etc.
A good weakness answer has two key parts;
- Your weakness– For this part, give a real weakness that wouldn’t be a major hindrance to the job.
- How you are working to improve it– This is the most critical bit. Discuss on the proactive efforts you are putting to improve. The interviewer will depict you to be self- aware, purpose-driven and that your weakness will not slow you down.
When choosing a “good” weakness, be authentic by not selecting a weakness just because it sounds good. That does not mean you have to share a weakness that makes you look bad. If you have a list of several weaknesses, choose one that will be interview friendly. By this I mean pick a weakness that is acceptable for the job at hand, relatively minor and fixable.
Though this is often one of the most dreaded interview questions, take time to prepare a thoughtful response. As you prepare your answers, turn weaknesses into challenges that you’ve overcome and strengths into the reason you are a great fit for the job.
Article by Muthii Stella.
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