Everybody of us is good at something. The problem is that we often do not get the recognition we deserve, either from our partner, or from our parents, teachers, and employers. It cannot surprise us that most people aren’t able to define their strengths in a job interview. And when it comes to weaknesses, we often struggle to admit them, fearing that it may cost us our chances to get the job. But is it really true? And what does the hiring managers actually want to hear from you in an interview? We will try to find the answers on the following lines…
Before we proceed to 7 sample answers to the question, I want you to remember a couple of key points. First of all, hiring managers care much more about your attitude than about the particular strengths and weaknesses you point out on a job application, or in an interview. As long as they see that you can admit areas of improvement, and do what you can to become better, they will be satisfied with your answer.
Secondly, barely any weakness is a showstopper. Unless you said that your weakness is a drug addiction. Employment, just as any other human endeavor, isn’t black and white. You will find successful managers, teachers, doctors, cooks, and students with all sorts of personalities, strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the day, every human being is unique, and you should embrace your uniqueness… Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question.
3 Key Strengths and 3 Areas of Improvement: 7 sample answers
- I would pick communication skills, empathy, and intelligence as my key strengths. In my opinion, communication and empathy play a major role in almost any job, because you always deal with people. That’s why I always try to look at things from the perspective of the person I am talking to. When it comes to areas of improvement, I could definitely improve my computer skills, time management, and punctuality. I am aware of my weaknesses, and know I cannot afford to be ten minutes late to every other meeting, if I want to be successful as a manager. That’s why I started to reminders, and I also try to plan my working day in advance. Anyway, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
- Experience in the field, passion for my job, and analytical thinking. These strengths helped me to get over many difficulties and a crisis of motivation, and no doubt they will help me in my new job as well. But I struggle sometimes with the relationships, and I am not the best in leading teams, or doing presentations. I see these as key areas of improvement, simply because in a corporate environment of the 21st century, each employee has to make a presentation sometimes, or lead a small team.
- I am responsible, I can work quickly, and I do not mind physical labor. In my opinion, it is an ideal combination for a job in a fast food restaurant, or similar fast-paced working environment. What I have to improve on, however, are my people skills, computer skills, and also neatness. Anyway, I am aware of these issues, and I believe that a job in which I will belong to a team is a great opportunity to improve on my people skills.
- Love for teaching, good understanding of the young generation, and Math skills. And I believe that my former students would agree with this description. They could feel it in the classes, that I did not teach only for money, but saw a meaningful purpose in my job. And I still see it there… However, there are areas I can improve on as a teacher, especially my ability to explain complex issues in a simple way, to foster better relationships with fellow teachers, and to effectively apply technology in the classroom. But I am firm believer that we keep learning our entire life, and I am definitely not complacent with the status quo.
- I’d pick observation skills, vigilance, and concentration, which I believe is a good combination for a security guard, and the main reason why I apply for this job. Being completely honest with you, I suck at many other things–managing other people, doing manual work, working with computers, just to name a few examples. But I also believe that we should choose a fitting job for our strengths, and that’s exactly what I try to do here. Of course, I can try to improve on my weaknesses. But certain things depend on our talent, and we can improve them only to some extent. That’s why I prefer to focus on my strengths, and look for a job that’s a good match to them.
- I believe that my former managers and colleagues are the right people to answer this question. Because they can consider it from some distance. Of course, I am confident in my managerial skills, my ability to solve conflicts and meet deadlines. And I also see some areas of improvement, such as being more sensitive in the meetings with my subordinates, or learning to close the deal in the right moment. As I said though, this is my perspective, and just like every other human being I have a tendency to see certain things better than they are, and certain things worse than they are. That’s why it would be better to ask my former colleagues.
- Key strengths? Without a doubt emotional intelligence, mental resilience, and motivation. And I believe all three of them are vital in social work, with everything we see and experience daily in the field. Do not take me wrong though, I do not consider myself a perfect social worker. I can definitely improve on many things. First of all, I need to learn to maintain some distance. It happens often that a case hits me profoundly, and I keep thinking about it back at home, failing to fall asleep, feeling a strange sense of guilt. This cannot happen if I want to stay sane and work in the field for many years. Secondly, I often struggle to get my message over. I really need to learn to adjust my communication to the recipient of my message. And the last from the three I would pick are time management skills. Of course, it is nice spending two hours in a family, building trust, trying to understand the core of a problem, making a difference. But when you have other five visits planned on a day, you just cannot afford it. I need to learn to manage my time effectively…
Try to match your strengths with your job selection
The beauty of the employment market lies in its diversity. You can find hundreds of different job titles on any major job board. And you have full time roles, part time jobs, interim opportunities, volunteering, freelancing, and anything in-between.
What I try to convey here is that there is a fitting job for everyone, including you, regardless of your education, experience, strengths and weaknesses. Once you talk about these things in an interview, make sure to relate to the job, saying that you believe this or that strength will help you do it well.
And when it comes to areas of improvement, make sure to ensure the hiring managers you are aware of your weaknesses, the role they play in the job, and will try to improve on them. That’s the attitude they seek in every good job applicant.
* Special Tip: Question about your strengths and weaknesses isn’t the most difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, solving problems, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 50 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!
Show your confidence in an ability to handle the job
Regardless of how critical you are when it comes to your strengths and weaknesses, they shouldn’t get an impression that you doubt your abilities. Sure enough, you can improve on this or that, you can perhaps improve on almost everything.
At the same time, however, you have read the job description carefully, understand the expectations, and believe to have what it takes to handle the job, to the satisfaction of your employer. Make sure to show confidence in your abilities. Because when you start doubting them, the hiring managers will do the same….
Ready to answer this tricky interview question? I hope so! Do not forget to check also sample answers to other tricky questions:
- Top 3 reasons why you’re qualified for the job.
- What makes you stand out from other applicants?
- Aren’t you overqualified for this job?
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Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of InterviewPenguin.com website.
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