How to Talk About Your Strengths and Weaknesses in an Interview
The SWOT analysis is a common tool used by companies to assess their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the marketplace. It gives them a framework for making informed business decisions and remaining competitive. And believe it or not, they even use the SWOT method to make hiring decisions. By asking candidates strengths and weaknesses interview questions, the hiring manager can make a more informed decision about who would be best for the role.
However, strengths and weaknesses interview questions are some of the toughest questions to answer. They require you to look inward and make an honest assessment about what you do well and where you could improve – and that can be challenging. When you’re talking about yourself in an interview, it’s important that you give honest answers and keep in mind what the employer is looking for in a candidate.
As you’re preparing a list of your strengths and weaknesses, always check the job description first. The employer most likely included some traits that the ideal candidate would have. Check to see which of your greatest strengths align with what the hiring manager is looking for and highlight these in your interview.
On the same note, you should also avoid talking about weaknesses that would indicate you’re not a good fit for the job. People often ask, “What are good weaknesses for an interview?” because nobody wants to jeopardize their chances of getting the job. However, there is no right answer – what makes a “good weakness” for an interview is one that’s honest and doesn’t interfere with key job responsibilities.
Here are some common categories and soft skills that your interviewer may be assessing you on:
Commitment to Tasks
Ability to Cope
Ability to Work on a Team
If you’re asked about your strengths and weaknesses in an interview, always use direct examples. How have you exemplified your greatest strengths in previous roles? How have your weaknesses affected your work in the past, and what are you doing to improve upon them?
Use these sample strengths and weaknesses interview questions to assess your own performance and prepare for your next interview.
Here are three common questions regarding strengths that could come up in an interview. Look over these sample answers and try to craft your own responses for the job you’re interviewing for.
What are your advantages as a candidate?
I’m a strong candidate because I carry certification xyz. To earn the certification, I completed several case studies and x hours of coursework, which makes me an expert on xyz and a unique candidate in the industry.
What do other people see as your best abilities?
Previous managers and coworkers have acknowledged one of my greatest strengths is my ability to communicate and work well on a team. For example, when I was at company xyz we had to work in groups within our department to manage projects. On xyz project, I was the team leader responsible for delegating tasks and conveying what needed to be done to get the project completed on time. I was able to communicate project goals to a team of 15, and the project was completed on time.
How do you compare to others in your role?
It seems to me that most people in this position have only a bachelor’s degree. I have a master’s degree and have completed extensive volunteer work in this area. I feel that my additional experience and education sets me apart from others.
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Here you will find some typical questions regarding weaknesses and some sample answers to get you started. Practice answering the questions to reflect your own experience.
What’s something you could improve on?
I could improve my ability to prioritize tasks. For example, I often take on too many things at once. To work on prioritizing, I’ve been giving each of my tasks an “A” “B” or “C” rating based on the business need of each item. This has helped me to better manage my time, so that I can stay organized and on track to complete my goals.
Has a weakness of yours ever interfered with your work? What was the outcome?
I like to share my opinions and ideas, but I haven’t always delivered them in the best manner. In a previous role, I was too direct with my opinions, and I ruffled some feathers among my team members. After discussing with my manager and mentor at the time, I learned how important it is to listen and make others feel comfortable sharing their thoughts. Since that experience, I’ve made a great effort to maintain a collaborative and productive team dynamic by encouraging others to share their opinions and improving my own approach.
What skills would you like to develop?
I’d like to develop my leadership skills. I have a desire and ability to lead others, but sometimes I’m too shy to speak up or take the lead. However, I’ve made an effort to take informal leadership roles, like chairing the office social committee, to practice public speaking and organizing others to complete a goal.
When you're speaking about your weaknesses, avoid bringing emotion, arrogance, or negativity into your answers. Instead, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your resourcefulness, motivation, and positive attitude. This approach is much more likely to impress your interviewer. And when you’re speaking about your strengths, don’t be afraid to show-off. It’s your opportunity to boast your accomplishments, highlight your best soft skills, and show the employer that you’re the best candidate for the role.
For more help answering strengths and weaknesses interview questions, try developing your own SWOT analysis with this helpful worksheet.
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