The Best Ways to Talk About Your Strengths and Weaknesses in a Job Interview

The Best Ways to Talk About Your Strengths and Weaknesses in a Job Interview

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

1. Be honest. It might sound trite, but it’s also true: An answer that sounds genuine and authentic will impress, while one that sounds generic, calculated, exaggerated, or humblebraggy will do the opposite. A boss doesn’t want to hire someone who can’t recognize and own what they bring to the table and what they need to 

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

work on. You’ll be a better employee if you can understand and leverage your strengths and acknowledge and learn from your weaknesses. So you want to show in the interview that you’re capable of that kind of self-reflection.

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

2. Tell a story. Here’s another cliché you shouldn’t discount: “Show, don’t tell.” Anyone who’s ever taken a writing class—whether in seventh grade or graduate school—has heard it.  You should keep it in mind when answering just about any interview question, and it’s certainly helpful here. “Anytime you can have a 

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

real-life example or a concrete example, it’s a good idea. It just helps to contextualize the response a little bit,” Smith says. “We just understand concepts and situations better with a story. So if you can tell a story that supports your thesis, then it’s always helpful.” Talk about a time your strength helped you achieve something in a professional setting or 

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

when your weakness impeded you. For example, if you’re talking about how you’re calm under pressure in a fast-paced environment, you might tell the interviewer about that time you delivered a revamped client proposal after a last-minute change of plans.  If you’re admitting that your weakness is presenting in front of high-level executives, you 

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

might start by briefly describing the time you got so nervous presenting your plan for a new marketing strategy that you weren’t able to effectively convey your (thorough and pretty brilliant) approach and your boss had to step in and help get the plan approved. Not only will sharing a real example make your answer stand out, but it’ll also make it

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

sound thoughtful and honest and highlight all those other characteristics interviewers are actually looking for.

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

3. Remember to get to the insight. An answer that’s genuine and includes an illustrative anecdote is a great start, but it’s not complete until you address the “so what?” When you’re talking about a strength, the last beat of your answer should tie whatever skill or trait you’ve been discussing to the role and company

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

you’re applying for. Tell the interviewer how that strength would be useful in this job at this company. So going back to the revamped client proposal example, you might add, “Since things move quickly at [Company], this would allow me to come in and earn a new team’s confidence and foster a trusting team culture while also ensuring we’re all hitting our goals and delivering high-quality work.”

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

In the case of a weakness, “Really showcase your growth trajectory, your learning curve, what you’ve done as a result of the awareness of that weakness,” Smith says.  It’ll help the interviewer understand how you’d approach problem-solving and professional growth in this new job. So if you were the candidate with the 

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

presentation snafu, you might talk about how you sat down with your boss to make a plan to improve your public speaking skills, and how the next time you had to present to the execs you knocked it out of the park.

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

4. Keep it short. You don’t have to devote half the interview to these answers. You can keep your response relatively brief and focused on one or two strengths and/or weaknesses, depending on how the question was phrased.  To add to our list of overused-but-handy phrases: Think quality, not quantity. Don’t dive in and rattle off a litany of 

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

things you think you’re good or bad at without explaining anything. Instead, narrow it down and go into detail.

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5 tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses in an interview

5. Don’t sweat it so much. While you definitely want to prepare and do your best to nail your answers, try not to stress too much.  “I have never known an employment decision to come down to how someone answers those questions,” Smith says. “It’s just one data point connected with a whole bunch of other ones. So don’t give it too much weight.”

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What are some example strengths and weaknesses you could use in an interview?

Example strengths for job interviews – Being adaptable – Being proactive – Building relationships – Being willing to go above and beyond to help others – Coming up with innovative solutions – Communicating in writing – Delegating – Displaying emotional intelligence

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What are some example strengths and weaknesses you could use in an interview?

– Having experience with a problem that the company is currently facing – Figuring out how to effectively use a piece of software – Giving or receiving constructive feedback – Handling conflicts – Interpreting data and/or results – Managing projects – Motivating employees

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What are some example strengths and weaknesses you could use in an interview?

– Noticing small details – Prioritizing – Public speaking – Recognizing patterns – Setting deadlines – Switching between different tasks quickly – Self-motivating – Thinking critically – Working well under pressure

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What are some example strengths and weaknesses you could use in an interview?

Example weaknesses for job interviews – Being a perfectionist – Being too hard on yourself – Getting too caught up in small details – Getting nervous about speaking to groups or on the phone – Ignoring or rationalizing away constructive feedback – Locking in on a certain idea or way of doing things

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What are some example strengths and weaknesses you could use in an interview?

– Losing track of deadlines, tasks, or work products – Making basic math errors or not being able to do math in your head – Making frequent grammar errors when writing – Maintaining work-life balance – Not being comfortable with vague instructions – Not being confident – Not being willing to change your mind

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What are some example strengths and weaknesses you could use in an interview?

– Not knowing when to ask for clarification – Not picking up on nonverbal cues – Missing deadlines – Overlooking small details – Procrastinating – Struggling with time management – Taking on too much work rather than delegating or saying no – Writing unclearly

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How to answer “What are your strengths?” in an interview

Use this opportunity to emphasize the most important qualities you’d bring to the role, team, and company. Smith recommends reading carefully through the job description and learning as much as you can about what the company is up to and what the culture is like.  Read various pages on the organization’s website, take a 

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How to answer “What are your strengths?” in an interview

look at its social media accounts, and catch up on some recent announcements and news coverage if applicable.  Use what you’ve learned to identify which of your strengths is most relevant and how it will allow you to contribute. Then make the connection inescapable. “Every answer should position you to help 

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How to answer “What are your strengths?” in an interview

them see how you can solve a problem” and help the company achieve its goals, Smith says. At the same time, you don’t want to go overboard.  “It’s such a fine line. I always tell people not to worry about bragging, but you also don’t want to come across as cocky or too full of yourself,” Smith says. Give a confident and honest assessment that does

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How to answer “What are your strengths?” in an interview

your skills justice, but don’t let yourself veer into hyperbole.

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