Interview Techniques: Strengths & Weaknesses
Two of the most common topics asked about during interviews are your strengths and weaknesses. Your ability to respond strategically and effectively to these types of questions usually makes or breaks your success in an interview. Employers use them to find out whether your abilities line up well with a position and what red flags might prevent you from doing the job. The interviewer may also be watching to see whether you are easily flustered by the questions and whether you appear to be giving a pat answer or an honest self-assessment.
“What are your strengths?” “What is your greatest strength?” and “Why should we hire you?” are the most common variations of interview questions related to your strengths. In general, your job is to come prepared to explain how your strengths align with the needs of the company and the position. The hiring manager doesn’t just want to know in what areas you excel, he wants to see that you have talents that fit the job. Good people skills, for instance, would make sense to a hiring manager for a sales or service job.
To succeed in your interview, you need to prepare ahead of time. Do a skills assessment. List all of your core strengths. Compare them to the job posting and the qualifications for the position. Pick three to four strengths that you possess that you feel best match the needs of the employer. Prepare an example to prove your abilities with each strength. If you are going to use organizational skills as a strength, plan to share an example of a system you use to stay organized
“What are your weaknesses?” “What is your greatest weakness?” and “What do you struggle with?” are common examples of questions on the topic of weaknesses. In general, hiring managers want to see if you have glaring weaknesses that would impede your success in a position. A paralegal job, for instance, requires someone with good organizational skills and attention to detail. If you note that organization skills are a weakness in your interview, you likely wouldn’t get the job because this is a key trait.
First, don’t say that you have no weaknesses or offer a disingenuous answer, such as “I’m a perfectionist, so I sometimes push myself too hard.” Either of these techniques either shows you lack humility or are evading the nature of the question. Instead, prepare one challenging area, unrelated to the job, that you have improved in. Paralegals spend less time presenting in public since their work involves research behind the scenes. A safe weakness response would be “I used to struggle with public speaking because I didn’t do it much. However, I recently took a communication skills course, which helped me get much more comfortable with my abilities.”