It’s common for employers to ask you about your strengths and weaknesses in an interview. These questions are asked to measure your self awareness as much as seeing if you’re qualified for the job. Here are some tips for crafting your answers and impressing your interviewer.
Talking about your strengths
To prepare for this question, go back and review the job posting. Then create a short list of your strengths and skills as they relate to the qualifications and responsibilities listed for the role. This list can include hard or technical skills and soft skills.
Now, review the list and think about what you really excel in. Narrow down the list to what you believe are your two or three strongest qualities. It’s also important to consider which qualities you’d be able to discuss in more detail.
Next to each strength, write supporting information that will help you discuss them. The interviewer will expect you to elaborate on your answers, so think of specific instances when you’ve demonstrated these qualities or had to use these skills.
Finally, think about how each strength will help you in the role. Remember, interviews are all about convincing the employer that you’re the right person for the job. So, a great answer to this question ultimately ties back to how you’ll bring these strengths to the role and company.
Talking about your weaknesses
The best way to approach this question is by not avoiding it. ”I can’t think of anything”, “I don’t have any” —or the sneaky “I work too hard”—is not an answer you should give.
The best approach is to be honest, but mention something that isn’tneeded for success in the role. This means your answer shouldn’t be something that could affect your job performance. For instance, if you’re interviewing for an accounting role, you don’t want to tell the interviewer that you’re unorganized or bad with details.
First, think of something that doesn’t come naturally to you, but is something you’re working on. Then, frame your answer in a way that illustrates how you’re trying to overcome or have improved this weakness.
If you’ve struggled with public speaking, you could mention that you’ve started volunteering more to present group projects or signed up for a debate course. Whatever it is, talking about the actions you've taken will show the interviewer that you’re committed to self improvement.
Learn more tips for answering common interview questions.
Want to practice? Contact your school's career center and see if you can schedule a mock interview.