How to Talk About Strengths and Weaknesses During a Job Interview

Interviewers are sneaky. They’re not only looking to learn more about your abilities and expertise, they also want to get a better sense of you as a person. They’re hoping to understand what makes you tick, what motivates you, what pushes you to succeed. On the same note, they would like to find out what can keep you from being productive. What can stand between you and excellence. When they ask you to speak about your strengths and weaknesses, they’re basically testing your confidence and honesty.

Talking about your strengths isn’t that difficult. After all, you need to be able to praise yourself if you want to snag the job. When it comes to listing your weak points, it becomes a bit trickier. You don’t want to lie, but being too honest can also work against you. Luckily, we have a few tips that will help you come up with a terrific response.

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Pointing out strengths

First off, listing a bunch of qualities won’t win you any bonus points. You need to be ready to back up your claims with hard evidence that proves you’ve had the opportunity to put them to good use in the past. Otherwise, the interviewer might perceive you as arrogant or brash. It’s important to emphasize the fact that you’re not there to brag. Instead, you’re looking to help the company grow by lending it your expertise.

For example, you want to say that you’re adaptable to change and quick to adjust to a new environment. You can try something in the lines of: “I am excellent at adapting to changes and I feel comfortable in new surroundings. At my previous job, I was often asked to overlook projects I wasn’t familiar with when my coworkers were on leave.” Of, if you want to highlight the fact that you’re a fast learner, give the recruiter a concise example: “I love learning new things and I believe I have the ability to do it fairly quickly. If you’ve noticed from my resume, I started off as an intern at my previous job and was promoted to an entry-level position in only two months.” This way, you also give the interviewer a chance to ask more about your expertise and you can point out things they might have missed while perusing your resume.

Wondering what skills employers are always looking for? You can’t fail by mentioning that you’re a great communicator, since many companies want to hire professionals with excellent written and verbal communication skills. Flexibility is a plus; so are organizational skills. If you’ve had any previous experience with leadership, don’t fail to point that out. Last, but not least, the ability to work well in a team is always welcomed.

Preparation is key when it comes to acing a job interview – we can’t stress that enough. Take some time prior to the meeting to think about what you’re going to say and come up with a few examples that prove you’re not making things up. Here are a few additional ideas of strengths worth being acknowledged to a recruiter: punctual, reliable, eager to mentor, persistent, persuasive, energetic, respectful, versatile. Mentioning integrity and initiative is also worth considering.

Talking about weaknesses    

When it comes to flaws, it’s OK to be forth-coming. However, don’t sabotage yourself. Admitting that you have trouble showing up on time for important meetings or that you often lose focus is a big no-no. It will only constitute as a red flag and might even cost you the position. On the other hand, if you’ve had problems with former employers, the interviewers can easily phone your references and find out. Ideally, you want to recognize your weaknesses, but put them in a good light. Don’t worry – it’s not as difficult as it may seem.

Focus on pointing out vulnerabilities that can be turned into positives. If you’re not comfortable with multi-tasking, say something like: “I often have a hard time when it comes to juggling interruptions or distractions. I think that’s because I prefer to focus solely on the task on hand in order to make sure my results will exceed expectations.” Humble-bragging is a common practice during job interviews – as long as you’re not too obvious, you’ll be able to pull it off.

Additionally, you can talk about flaws that are unrelated to the job you’re applying for. Let’s say you’re not very good at public speaking – if you’re looking to get hired as a web developer, that shouldn’t be an issue. Or, talk about weaknesses you’re currently looking to improve. If you have trouble delegating, say that you sometimes find it hard to let others help you out. Nonetheless, indicate that you’re doing your best to fix the issue and add that you hope that the employer will give you the chance to do it while working for their company.

To get you inspired, here are some weaknesses you can admit to while talking to a recruiter: too helpful, sensitive, over-zealous. Avoid mentioning flaws that could raise concerns about your motivation, basic people skills or reliability. Also, don’t state you don’t have any weaknesses at all. We’re all human.

What’s important to remember while talking about your strengths and weakness is that you’re there to sell yourself. You need to put your best foot forward and focus on the things that make you a great candidate for the job. Don’t waste time giving them reasons not to hire you. Instead, make it a priority to showcase everything you have to offer. Good luck!

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