So, you’re sitting in that all important job interview and things are going well. You’ve started to relax a bit and the conversation is flowing nicely. That is, until out of the bag it comes. That age old interview question that often pops up and it’s the one which most of us dread the most – what are your strengths and weaknesses?
When it comes down to it, the last thing you want to be doing is sitting in a job interview talking candidly about all your flaws, but likewise you don’t want to freeze up and be unable to give a decent answer. Gone are the days of spinning a positive answer, thinly veiled as a negative, interviewers can see straight through that, but at the same time you don’t want to admit to anything that would ring alarm bells.
So there lies the question, how to answer those all important strength and weakness questions when they arise in a job interview.
Firstly and most importantly, be prepared. You know chances are it’s going to come up, so in the days leading up to your interview, get planning.
Identify what your strengths are and how they relate well to the job. Include strengths which highlight your education and experience, ones which you can bring with you from previous roles and personal traits which stand you in good stead, such as perseverance, tenacity, team player, hard working, eager to learn and a positive outlook.
When it comes to weaknesses, again be prepared with a good answer. The interviewer knows you aren’t perfect, what they are looking for is how you answer the question. Come up with weaknesses which aren’t detrimental to your ability to do the job, but are legitimate, authentic weaknesses.
Make sure you demonstrate clearly what you are doing to deal with and improve them. If it’s something that you can fix, for instance a fear of public speaking to large groups or the inability to delegate effectively, then this can change with practice.
The key is to show that you can admit to your flaws and demonstrate that you are willing to make the changes. Give good examples of how you overcame your weaknesses in the past and how you aim to do it in the future.
Essentially, there is no text book answer to the job interview question ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses’, but you can get through it by being prepared. Be confident but not conceited, pragmatic and honest, without going into too much detail and the question (as well as the job) will hopefully be in the bag before you know it!