How to Talk About Strengths and Weaknesses in an Interview

Woman and man in an interview
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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?"

You may hear these questions phrased in different ways, but the underlying reason employers ask remains the same. They want to know what you see as your strengths and weaknesses and also observe how you respond to a challenging

Since it's so likely you'll hear a variant of these questions during a job interview, it's worth spending some time to think through your answer. 

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.

How to Answer Interview Questions About Strengths and Weaknesses

When answering questions about your strengths and weaknesses, always keep the job description in mind.

Focus on strengths you have that are required for the job, and avoid weaknesses that would make you unfit for the position. For example, if a job requires a lot of work on team projects, you might say one of your strengths is that you are a clear communicator who can work with diverse groups of people. Alternatively, 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 instance, you might say that you’re working to improve a particular weakness or explain how a weakness might be considered a strength (if you are a bit too detail-oriented, you can explain how this actually helps you produce quality work).

Do be honest and sincere in your response. However, avoid sharing a universally disqualifying answer. That is, you don't want to say that you're always tardy.


Some Suggestions for Answering "What Is Your Greatest Weakness?"

It may be helpful to review the following sample answers to these questions. These examples can give you ideas for how to respond to 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:

  • 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

    • 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.