What are your strengths and weaknesses?

One of the questions that is sure to pop up during every interview is, what are your strengths and weaknesses. Here most of us give either generic answers for our strengths, such as team work, or that I am a dedicated and hard worker. Whereas as weaknesses, we often try to pass off something positive as negative, such as I work too hard, or I put the company before my own needs, I’m a workaholic, etc.

However, recruiters say that these are not the answers they are looking for. They hear these same answers about 20 times a day; what they are looking for is honesty and individuality. The trick here is to answer truthfully, without looking like you’re either boasting or that you have low self-esteem. You need to find the middle ground here; to show off your strengths without looking like you are boosting, all the while also being humble enough to actually speak about your real weaknesses.

In asking this question, the interviewer wants to see whether or not you are self-aware. They want to test you to see whether or not you know yourself enough to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and whether or not you are comfortable and/or confident enough to openly discuss them.

So actually answer the question with your real strengths and weaknesses, while also going as far as to highlighting them with examples. Show how your strength will benefit the company, and how you have overcome your weaknesses or are trying to. The only thing here is to not to provide a weakness that would be counter intuitive for the job descriptions. For example, don’t say that you have a fear of public speaking when you are interviewing for a job that requires you to present proposals all day. This may make them think that you are not right for the position.

The idea behind this question is to know you as a person. So, you should try to give an honest picture of yourself. Highlight your strengths, but also use this opportunity to show why you would be a good fit for the job and the company. Similarity, show your real weaknesses, while also showing how you are fixing it or are working on your shortcomings. This shows that you are active and aware, that you can pinpoint problems and are not afraid of tackling them, even in yourself.

Example:

I feel that my strength is that I am natural leader. I often tend to take charge in projects and try to get the team to work together harmoniously and productively. In my last project, there were time when our team did not get along, I tried to diffuse the situation and delegated tasks to the team members which they could complete on their own. These tasks were then compiled to form the XYZ project.

However, I feel like that my weakness is that I need to micromanage at times. Even when I delegated tasks to my team members, I felt that I had to keep checking up on them to ensure that the tasks were compatible between the members. I later realized that members’ productivity was being hampered by my interference, which was then that I realized that I need to let them do their work. If modifications were required they could be done later.

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