THIS ARTICLE WAS UPDATED ON 20/MAY/2020
At some stage in job interviews, there are certain types of questions that employers are likely to raise, despite the position and company. One of the most widespread interview questions is, “What is your greatest weakness?” and this is frequently preceded or followed by, “What is your greatest strength?” These questions can be phrased in lots of different ways, but employers ask them for the same reasons. With these questions, the hiring manager is trying to determine what qualities that the candidate has which will help him succeed in the job if he is hired, as well as those qualities which could be problematic.
At first, this might seem like a ridiculous question, but the strategy behind asking it is brilliant. The interviewer is intentionally trying to get the candidate to answer a question that is designed to trip him up. The candidate should notice how this question is essentially in two parts.
It is imperative to constantly keep the job description in mind when answering this inquiry. When addressing questions about strengths, the candidate should focus on the strengths he has which are required for the job. When answering questions about weaknesses, one should avoid weaknesses that would make him unfit for the job. For example, if the job requires a lot of technical skill, he should not say that his weakness is technology.
Also, no matter what weakness one selects, try to put a positive spin on his answer. For instance, one might say that he is working to improve a particular weakness or explain how a weakness might be considered to be his strength. However, there’s a secret formula that can help one succeed. The candidate should emphasize a positive quality or skill that’s needed for the job, and minimize the lies.
This is the most terrifying part of the question. Everyone has weaknesses, but no one wants to confess them, especially in an interview. Numerous examples of weaknesses that one might bring up consist of being extremely critical of themselves, attempting to gratify everybody, and being foreign to the most recent software. The most excellent way to handle this question is to play down the trait and highlight the positive. One should pick a trait and come up with a resolution to rise above its weakness. One should stay away from personal qualities and contemplate more on professional traits.
When asking about your strengths, a hiring administrator will also repeatedly attempt to learn about the candidate’s weaknesses. In reality, it is pretty rare for a hiring manager to ask the candidate about them together as one question, but the candidate still needs to be prepared in case this question comes up. Normally speaking, one should practice for these questions separately, because each of them has distinctive characteristics and should be handled on their own. On the other hand, these two questions will regularly be asked in a row and are linked so one needs to get ready both. If one finds himself in a position where the interviewer asks him about his strengths and weaknesses simultaneously, the candidate must make sure to always begin with his weaknesses and finish with his strengths. The candidate should make certain that the very last thing he says in his answer is something that leaves a good impression on the interviewer. So in other words, the candidate should stress upon his weaknesses first.
In this area, it is significant for one to be precise. He should assess his skills to identify his strengths. This is an exercise worth doing before any interview. One must make a list of his skills, dividing them into three categories:
Some examples of strengths you might mention are eagerness, honesty, originality, discipline, endurance, respectfulness, willpower, devotion, integrity, and adaptability. The candidate should make sure he can give specific examples to demonstrate why he calls a particular trait his strength if probed further.
When one is sitting down across from a hiring manager he would want to make sure that he is presenting himself in the best possible way. He would want to show them that he is the perfect candidate, the answer to all their hiring needs, but how can one do that when he is asked a question specifically designed to throw him off. It is simply by answering it before it’s even asked. By preparing for this question ahead of time and outlining several possible answers the candidate will be in a much better position to come up with an answer in the interview that not only covers the question but also makes him appear polished, well prepared, and confident. For someone who is not ready for this question, trying to come up with a swift reply can be a massive stumbling block.
The candidate should write a positive statement that he can say with confidence. When confronted with this interview question, he should remember the interviewer is looking for a fit. A single answer will probably not keep him from getting the job, unless, of course, it is something blatant. One should put his energy into his strengths statement and what he has to offer. Then, he should let the interviewer know that although he may not be perfect, he is working on any shortcomings that he might have.
When a hiring manager goes into an interview, they have one goal in mind which is to find the best possible candidate for the position and they do this through a process of elimination using carefully selected questions. Parroting back prepared answers to standard questions does little to tell an interviewer about who one is. Interviewers want to see what happens when they rattle the candidate’s cage and throw them off balance which is why they love questions like these.
The candidate should use his trusted research skills and do a little digging on both the company and the job he is interviewing for. He should start by researching the company and finding what they value as far as strengths and qualities go. Then the candidate should look at the job itself and decide whether he can pull out a few core needs that he knows he can meet with confidence. He should then take all of those pieces and put them together in one single answer and make sure that he has practical examples and success stories from his past that supports his claims. The candidate needs to make sure that his answer is truthful, relevant to the position and company he is applying for, and accurate.
Ultimately what the candidate is aiming to do is to reassure the hiring manager that he is the right person for the job. He wants to make sure his answer shows them that his strengths are in line with what the company needs and is looking for. He needs to let them know that he is fully capable of doing the job he is being hired to perform and that he is the best person and the perfect candidate for the position. He should let them know that by hiring him they’re getting someone with the qualities, skills, and experience that will not only make him an excellent part of the team but also sets him apart from any other potential candidates,
Let’s begin with what NOT to say when you are asked this question, “What are your strengths?”
The candidate should make sure that his answer is neither weak, nor confusing, and not one which lets the interviewer know right away that he is not prepared and that he lacks the skills it takes to think on his feet. An overly aggressive or cocky answer is also not something that is recommended by experts.
A hiring manager wants to hear one or two or at the most maybe three qualities which the candidate considers to be a strength and nothing more. Although the interviewer is interested in getting to know the candidate better, this is not the question to answer with personal information. The candidate should not talk about a strength which only sounds like a strength, but is a weakness in disguise. By telling his employer that his strength is a weakness in disguise, he is letting them know that he lacks self-reflection. This might also come across as being smarmy and can be perceived as if the candidate was trying to pull a fast one which is never a good idea, especially during an interview.