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How to answer ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?

The interview is a defining moment for each specialist. You can either prove yourself to be a perfect candidate for the position or hear the typical recruiter phrase “we will call you back” which actually makes it clear that you should not sit near the phone and count on the job offer in vain.

So, what affects the outcome of the interview? Often, the skills to present yourself as a capable candidate and evaluate personality strengths and weaknesses sensibly are key factors. This guide provides important tips that will help keep basic questions from unsettling you.

What is your greatest strength?

This is a frequently asked question for a job vacancy. By asking this question, the employer wants to find out:

  • your professional aptitude for performing tasks,
  • your personality characteristics which may coincide with or contradict the mission and values of the company,
  • your ability to reason, argue, and convince during your answer.

To hit the target while describing your greatest professional strengths, pay attention to detail.

  1. Make a list of at least ten of your strengths. This may consist of your hard or soft skills, education, work experience, and supporting talents.
  2. Research the job description inside and out as it includes clear clues about what kind of person they are looking for and what they expect from a potential candidate.
  3. Compare your list to the vacancy requirements. Analyze whether all your selected benefits are valuable for the particular position. Reduce your list based on this analysis and leave only the necessary ones for a career in the selected company.

Now you have good examples of strengths that can play into your hands during the interview. A critical role will be played, however, by the presentation of each point. This requires a competent approach.

How to present your biggest strengths and not sound cocky

  1. Make sure that each individual characteristic that you attribute to your strengths is not unfounded. For example, if you position yourself as a strong communicator, list the responsibilities from previous employers where you applied interpersonal skills and they were crowned with success.
  2. Double-check that every advantage is of interest to a particular employer. Ask yourself how the chosen benefit will be useful for the working environment of the company and the specified responsibilities. If you are at a loss when answering this question for yourself, visit this site with cover letter writing tips and necessary skills for any profession. If your search and brainstorm have failed, then delete this benefit from the list and do not waste the employer’s time. Remember that a lack of argumentation is unacceptable when describing strengths and weaknesses for the interview.
  3. The most common positioning strategy on the market is to present a product as a solution to a particular problem. The target audience, in this case, is sure of its benefits. The same strategy can be used if you have doubts on how to answer what are your strengths. For example, if your competitive advantage is analytical skills or critical thinking, then they can be used to assess and minimize risks. If you have a skilled hand in personnel management, then you can prevent staff turnover in the organization or increase employee satisfaction. Such an approach not only makes your answer personified, it also establishes you as a necessary member of the team. The primary condition for its successful implementation is taking the effort to study the background, activities, and principles of the company to learn problem-solving advantages.

What do you consider to be your weaknesses?

To get the aggregate picture, employers often ask you to list your weaknesses to understand:

  • whether you are ready to take an unbiased look at yourself as a person and employee,
  • whether you have critical thinking and are prepared to accept criticism in general,
  • whether your weaknesses are vital or if the company or management can turn a blind eye to them.

Such a question can put the candidate in an awkward position because first, no one likes to talk about their shortcomings, and second, it seems that disclosing your weaknesses leads to a loss of points by default. But with a proper approach to the answer, you have a chance to increase the loyalty of the potential employer.

How to present your weaknesses and not to discredit yourself

  1. Do not hide your weaknesses by convincing the employer of their absence. Even craft professionals have knowledge gaps, which means that the employee still has something to strive for. Passing over the question in silence is a sign of dishonesty which can play against you during an interview.
  2. Support your answer with a sample of how this weakness manifested itself in your professional life and what consequences it entailed. It will show your self-awareness, critical thinking, and understanding of the relationship between this trait and the quality of your work.
  3. Undoubtedly, not a single candidate will discredit himself and damage the reputation knowingly. Therefore, a proper technique is the use of ambiguous weaknesses. For example, you can attribute perfectionism to your shortcomings, arguing that this trait forces you to pay attention to every detail in your struggle for excellence which sometimes leads to needing more time to complete a task. Or you are prone to self-criticism which prevents you from resting on your laurels and forces you to continuously try to improve yourself at work. Using this trick, you will answer the question, save your face, and even add points to yourself, as the employer may regard such “weaknesses” as virtues that can play into the hands of the organization.
  4. Never end your answer with a description of your flaw. Use the “yes, but …” technique when you talk about your shortcomings. Then comment about how you work with it. For example, if you admit that you are not good at public speaking, then mention that you attend oral mastery courses or rehearse your speech daily in front of a mirror. It will prove that difficulties are not barriers that prevent you from self-improvement. Such a trait is always appreciated in a changing and unpredictable business environment.

Most common mistakes at the interview

These are some of the most common errors that prevent a successful self-presentation at the interview:

  1. Excessive modesty. This trait prevents the candidate from generating a “Why Me” message and delivering it to a potential employer. A product that does not have competitive advantages will never be in demand in the market. Consequently, a candidate without pronounced strengths runs the risk of a long job search.
  2. Poor argumentation. This item refers to strengths and weaknesses as the employer wants to see your train of thought and reasoning. Therefore, if you know that communication skills are your competitive advantage, but you can’t explain how they can be applied to a particular position, this strength will not tip the balance in your favor. The same goes for weakness. If you do not understand how it can harm your performance, then it will be difficult for you to eradicate it.
  3. Lack of vacancy knowledge. Researching job requirements is the foundation of your best answer for strengths and weaknesses. Neglecting this point threatens you with a loss of time during the interview since your chosen advantages and disadvantages may not be of value to the employer.

Remember that you should not regard questions about strengths and weaknesses as a potential danger to your employment. On the contrary, take it as a chance to better your professional portrait, thereby dispelling the doubts of your competence.

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