How to Talk About Strengths and Weaknesses in an Interview
During job interviews, there are certain types of questions that employers tend to ask, regardless of the position and company. One of the most common interview questions is, "What is your greatest weakness?" which is often 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. A hiring manager uses these types of interview questions to determine what qualities you have that will help you succeed in the job if you are hired, as well as what could be problematic.
Being prepared for your job interview is crucial for a good outcome, so think about how you might answer these types of questions.
Strengths and Weaknesses for Job Interviews
Strengths and weaknesses are different for almost every job. What could be a strength for one job applicant may be considered a weakness for another candidate. In general, there are some strengths and weaknesses you should – and shouldn't – mention during a job interview.
- Examples of Strengths for Interviews: Includes analytical, communication, and leadership skills, as well as the ability to collaborate and work as a team.
- Examples of Weaknesses for Interviews: Includes hard and soft skills, plus tips on how to spin your weaknesses so that they don’t knock you out of contention for the role.
How to Answer Interview Questions About Strengths and Weaknesses
When addressing questions about your strengths, focus on strengths you have that are required for the job. For example, if a job requires a lot of work on team projects, you might say that you are a clear communicator who can work with diverse groups of people.
When answering questions about your weaknesses, avoid weaknesses that would make you unfit for the job. For example, if the job requires a lot of technical skill, do not say that your weakness is technology. Also, no matter what weakness you select, try to put a positive spin on your answer.
For example, you might say that you’re working to improve a particular weakness, or explain how a weakness might be considered a strength (for example, if you are a bit too detail-oriented, you can explain how this actually helps you produce quality work).
It may make more sense if you review the sample answers to the questions listed below. These samples can give you ideas for how to answer these questions in an interview. However, remember to tailor your responses to fit your personal circumstances.
Interview Questions About Weaknesses
- What is your greatest weakness? - Best Answers
- What part of the job will be most challenging for you? - Best Answers
- Tell me about something you would have done differently at work. – Best Answers
- What do people most often criticize about you? - Best Answers
- When was the last time you were angry? What happened? - Best Answers
- What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make? - Best Answers
- What is the biggest criticism you received from your boss? - Best Answers
Interview Questions About Strengths
- What is your greatest strength? - Best Answers
- How will your greatest strength help you perform? - Best Answers
- What strength of yours will help you most to succeed in this job? - Best Answers
- What can we expect from you in the first 60 days on the job? - Best Answers
- What was your biggest strength as a student? - Best Answers
- What strength will help you most to succeed in the job? - Best Answers
Related Interview Questions
The following questions may not be specifically about your strengths and weaknesses, but they are related and help the interviewer get a fuller picture of your abilities:
- Why are you the best person for the job? - Best Answers
- What are your strengths and weaknesses (sales)? - Best Answers
- What motivates you? - Best Answers
- What are you passionate about? - Best Answers
- What part of the job will be the least challenging for you? - Best Answers
- How do you handle failure? - Best Answers
- How do you handle success? - Best Answers
- How do you view yourself? Who do you compare yourself to? - Best Answers
- How did you impact the bottom line at your previous job? - Best Answers
- Describe a difficult work situation/project and how you overcame it. - Best Answers
- Describe a time when your workload was heavy and how you handled it. - Best Answers
- What major challenges and problems have you faced? How did you handle them? - Best Answers
- What was your biggest accomplishment or failure in your current position? - Best Answers
- What have you learned from your mistakes? - Best Answers
- What are your pet peeves? - Best Answers
- What can you contribute to this company? - Best Answers
- Questions about your career goals. - Best Answers
- Questions about your emotional intelligence. - Best Answers
More Interview Tips
Bottom line, you’ll need to be prepared to answer difficult interview questions – which means expecting the unexpected. The good news is that a little prep work ahead of time can help you cope with even the most stressful job interview situation and come out on top.
- Prepare for a job interview by researching the company, matching your qualifications to the requirements in the job description, and practicing interviewing.
- Perfect your elevator pitch. Be ready to sum up who you are, what you do, and what you want to do for the company. Your summary should take 60 seconds or less – that’s right, the length of an elevator ride – and you should be able to deliver it with confidence when asked.
- Hone your business storytelling techniques. A job interview is at least partly a sales pitch. Practice pitching yourself and keep a stock of anecdotes about your accomplishments to use as answers to questions as appropriate.
- Don’t be afraid of taking a beat. Many job seekers are understandably reluctant to let the conversation wane, even if they need that moment of silence to get their thoughts together. Don’t be afraid to pause when you need to. It’s better to give a thorough answer than to say the first thing that pops into your head.
- Have questions for the interviewer. Most hiring managers close out interviews by asking candidates, “Do you have any questions for me?” When asked, make sure you have a few.