Job interviews are intimidating. More often than not, you spend hours preparing yourself, ensuring you have all the answers to any question they could possibly ask - then, they ask you something you somehow don’t have the answer to.
In this series, you’ll get insight into the true meaning behind some of the toughest interview questions out there, as well as a few different options for how you can best answer them.
Today’s question - “What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses?”
This question is pretty old school and is unfortunately still being asked regularly. It’s redundant; the point of this question isn’t at all what you answer with, but how you answer it. Obviously, everyone has real strengths and has real weaknesses. This is not the time to be talking about them. Keep in mind you always want to put your best foot forward and present your best self during an interview.
The interviewer’s goal here is simply to know that you possess enough critical thinking skills to answer the question appropriately. They want to know that you know enough not to say something like, “Well, I tend to be late to work a lot, and I’m a pretty disorganized person.” If that’s your answer, it doesn’t matter what you say as a strength - you’re not getting the job. To answer this old school question with an old school answer, you can position your “weaknesses” as “strengths.”
Ways that you can successfully approach this question -
You can tie your strengths into your weaknesses and try to spin a weakness as a strength. This is the most common approach.
“I’m a really hard worker. I’m diligent, and I always want to see things through, which leads me into my weaknesses. I’m a perfectionist and sometimes I dive too deep and pay too much attention to details.”
You can choose to be direct about your knowledge of the nature of this question.
“I know there’s a specific answer I’m supposed to give. I’m supposed to hide my weaknesses as strengths, so to that point, I am a really hard worker and I do bring a lot of passion to my work, and I really do hate making mistakes.” (From here, you want to quickly transition to a new topic.)
Be honest about your strengths, and rework your answer when it comes to weaknesses.
“My strengths are definitely my hardworking attitude, diligence, and attention to detail. When it comes to weaknesses, I try to remember that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, including myself. Most importantly, when I make one, I’m very open to feedback about how I can improve moving forward so it doesn’t happen again.”
Take some time to select which option best fits for you, and have that prepared just in case you get asked this old school question.
Whatever combination you go for, there are three things you’ll want to remember:
Have a great Attitude
Bring Enthusiasm to each and every interview
If you use this guide and remember these three things, you’ll be sure to ACE your interview.