Some job interview questions are fairly straightforward, others less so. Then there’s this double-down trickster: What is your greatest strength and what is your greatest weakness?
This two-sided question can either spotlight your self-awareness or plunge you into interview anguish. Let’s go over how to choose what to reveal, along with some precautions.
What is The Best Way to Answer This Question?
How to Approach These Questions
Be candid when discussing your greatest strength or your greatest weakness, but be strategic, too. Focus on strengths that relate to the role’s requirements, and only reveal weaknesses that are not required skills.
“Questions about strengths and weaknesses can provide an opportunity to show how your skills are a perfect match for the job,” says The Balance Careers. “The interviewer is looking for honesty, self-awareness, and the ability to learn from mistakes.”
What is Your Greatest Strength?
Interviewers who ask this question want to know whether you are aware of your positive traits and how you use them in the workplace, says Coursera. Are you a leader? Self-motivated? Collaborative? Good at solving problems? While you probably have more than one strength, elaborate on just one or two that are relevant to the job.
“If you aren’t sure about your strengths, ask some of your friends or colleagues what they see as your best qualities,” recommends Indeed. “Refer to any written feedback you’ve received in the past from peers or managers.”
Once you know which strength you want to emphasize, consider the best way to illustrate it. For example, you could explain how you use your strong organizational skills to consistently meet deadlines. Or how being flexible keeps you steady when faced with multiple high-priority tasks.
Practice answering this question confidently, without being arrogant or boastful.
What is Your Greatest Weakness?
When answering this interview question, experts recommend focusing on a real, work-related weakness that is not important to the job for which you are applying. For example, a fear of public speaking generally isn’t a drawback for an office position that doesn’t interact with customers or clients.
Rather than simply revealing a weakness, impress your interviewer by explaining how you’ve been working to overcome it. Perhaps you’ve been updating your technical skills through online classes, or you joined a social group to help combat shyness.
“Ultimately, you’ll want to use this question to demonstrate how you’ve used a weakness as motivation to learn a new skill or grow professionally,” says HubSpot.
Avoid cliché answers. Claiming you’re a perfectionist, for instance, or that you “care too much,” may sound insincere and suggest that you’re unwilling to be forthright.
What Not to Say
Finally, know what not to say. “While it is important to be honest about your weaknesses, there are a few traits that are not appropriate or beneficial to mention in a job interview,” notes Betterteam. “This includes tardiness, poor attention to detail, and an inability to meet deadlines.”
By strategically focusing on strengths that align with skills required for the position and by demonstrating you are open to improving weaker skills, you’ll be well prepared to answer this question honestly and frankly.
Are You Prepared For Your Interview?
If your job search could use some support, contact the placement experts at Pro Resources Staffing Services.