Interviews are all about honesty and confidence but they also need preparation. One question which regularly crops up in the interview script is “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” In this blog post, we have come up with some of the best answers to this frequently asked question on strengths and weaknesses.
Let us begin with “What are your strengths?”
Possible Answer #1
“I am a team player. It is a skill I picked up in school as a member and captain of the football team. I enjoy working in teams and have been often told by both supervisors and peers that I am the motivator of the group during stressful situations. In college, during a group presentation, one of the team members did not submit his bit of work. Given the short deadline, everybody was worried. Analyzing the situation, I called for a short meeting. I asked everyone to take equal parts of the unfinished business and we managed to hand in a great presentation.”
Possible Answer #2
“I am a quick learner. Over the past 2 years, I have worked in 3 different workplaces and this has worked well for me to improve my skills. I have honed my skills in copywriting, editing as well some core principles of Graphic Designing and Digital Marketing. I am quite comfortable with Microsoft Office Suite and I have basic knowledge of certain tools like Adobe Photoshop and Pixlr Editor. It is my motto to keep learning every day and I actively seek feedback to keep growing.”
Possible Answer #3
“I am very persistent and I love to negotiate. These are my core strengths I believe. From a persistence point of view, my performance has been praiseworthy for 3 years in a row now. Also, my manager would surely vouch for the fact that I am a consistent performer. I have received a bonus in every quarter, and this is a proof of my abilities. Besides, as I said, I have great negotiation skills. While negotiating, I can understand my own interests, why I want something and what I actually want; along with this, I can easily perceive the interests of the other party, which makes me a good negotiator!”
Possible Answer #4
“My greatest strength is experience enhancement. In other words, I love attending to people and making their experience better. Last year I underwent a rigorous 6-month long training which included problem solving workarounds in a real-world scenario. Within a very short span of time, I became permanent and was placed in direct client interfacing roles.”
Possible Answer #5
“I have the ability to work effectively with different kinds of people. Hence, I would say that organizational skills are one of the strongest points about me. I had to meet strict deadlines and coordinate with several departments simultaneously in order to deliver a project. I was ultimately able to deliver the project on schedule. In the end, this experience made me realise that I possess good organizational skills. But the entire episode also helped me to polish my time management skills and multi-tasking abilities side-by-side.”
Now, let’s move on to “What are your weaknesses?”
This question is generally asked with the intention of putting you on the spot. Do not try to hide behind a strength disguised as a weakness. Be genuine about your weaknesses and outline a plan of action you have taken to improve on the same.
“I am not very good at computer applications and shortcuts. But I have obtained enough skills to do meaningful work at present. Although I deliver my work bang on time at the last moment, I must admit that my speed is slow. However, I have been taking classes and practising hard to sharpen my skills so I can work more efficiently. I really want to be a fast programmer in the future and have a better coding speed than my peers.”
“I struggle to manage my time sometimes and cut too close to the deadlines. To overcome this, I have started using post-its and hourly entries in my calendar to remind me of my tasks. To add to this, I have begun organizing my time into daily tasks, weekly tasks, and long terms tasks in order to prioritize.”
“I am a very shy person and often cannot question authority in group meetings. When I spoke of this with my manager, he suggested that I send in questions via email post the meeting. I decided to extend the opportunity to everybody else at the workplace. So if anyone had any questions they would write to me. I would then collate them and send them to the required authority. I was able to set a new practice in office!”
“My communication style can be sometimes blunt and harsh. Feedback is amazing but constructive feedback can make miracles happen. Hence, I am learning to reserve my judgment and write down my blunt criticism before I say it aloud. This has allowed me to communicate well and build strong professional relationships.”
“I struggle with maintaining a good work-life balance. This used to put immense stress on me. I have now taken up weekly dance classes and do pottery on the weekends. This has given me avenues to de-stress and maintain high productivity levels.”
Following are our profile-wise customised answers to the interview question “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
A fresher’s answer to the question
“During the college years, I was heavily involved in college events and activities. My greatest strength is my ability to multi-task. I played on the Football Team, was on the organizing committee of the college cultural festival and the Economics Department Events Committee. With all the activities, I managed to keep an 8.5 GPA all through my final year! Talking about my weakness, I lack assertiveness. My inability to say no can put a lot of stress on my time and my ability. However, I am learning to be more vocal about my capacity and prioritize tasks.”
Sample answer for a software tester
“My thirst for knowledge is my greatest strength. I have worked as a Software Tester for the past 4 years and completed various certifications. My ex-manager observed my curiosity and facilitated greater learning by making me Project Lead on 3 projects last year. My greatest weakness is public speaking. Over the years, my love for the computer has developed me into quite a nerd! Given how important communication skills are, I decided to join a theatre group to help me relax in group settings and lose my stage fright.”
How an academician-cum-trainer will approach this question
“My ability to motivate people is what I consider my biggest strength. As a trainer, I have learned how to work with different groups of people and identify training needs. Similarly, as an academician, I have many people approaching me for guidance and I really pride myself on this. My greatest weakness is that I play by the rules too strictly. This can hamper my progress on a project because I focus on doing the job correctly rather than meeting my deadline. However, the habit of asking my peers to check in with me helps me expedite my own work.”
HR professional’s answer to their weaknesses
“I am a very hospitable person. I have always personally believed that but this has been professionally validated by my supervisor in my annual report. People have this image of HR professionals as cold and indifferent personnel, so meeting me is like a breath of fresh air for most! My greatest weakness is my Finance skills. I have not had too much exposure of the Finance end of the business but decided to take a Coursera online program on HR Finance to equip myself.”
What would a sales professional say his strengths and weaknesses are?
“My greatest asset is my persistence. This skill is really highlighted and celebrated in the field of sales and I love it! If a certain strategy is not working, I am keen to understand the obstacles and work on them. In the past 2 years as a sales executive, I have taken home a bonus every quarter and this drives me to perform better. About my weaknesses, I have spoken to my supervisor to help me understand my shortcomings. He advised that my writing skills and paperwork filing were lacking and I have consciously started working on this feedback.”
Sample of the answer given by an academic counselor
“My analytical ability has developed as my core strength. In the field of academic counselling, I have the fortune to meet different kids every day with varied interests and dreams. The ability to analyze their situation, chart out an academic plan and counselling them is thrilling and rewarding. In the last 6 months, I have been able to send 50 kids to medical colleges in Russia and China and really count this as a remarkable feat given how difficult the field of medicine is. As for my weakness, it is definitely time management! I love working in this field and used to work long hours. But now I remind myself to take timely breaks through the day for snacks and a short walk.”
These sample answers should help you tackle the question “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”. So do not be intimidated by the hiring manager and give them no cause to worry. List your strength and weaknesses smartly.
All the best ?