- Why employers ask, ‘What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?’
- Surprising ways employers ask, ‘What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?’
- How to answer, ‘What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?’
- Example answers to use in an interview
During the interview process, you can expect potential employers to ask about your strengths and weaknesses. Spend some time preparing an answer before the interview so you can give a thoughtful and straightforward response. Learn why employers ask this challenging question and find out how to answer, ‘What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?’
Why employers ask, ‘What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?’
When potential employers inquire about your greatest strengths and weaknesses, they want to learn more about how you can contribute to their company and how you have overcome challenges in the past. Interviewers typically look for a concise and genuine answer. By responding truthfully, you will demonstrate your self-awareness and ability to grow as a contributor and coworker.
Surprising ways employers ask, ‘What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?’
Interviewers usually want to know what you think your greatest strengths and weaknesses are, but they may not pose the question the same way every time. In some cases, they may ask about only your areas of improvement or your biggest contributions. Be prepared for a few surprising ways potential employers might ask about your faults and strong points.
- What is the best quality you bring to the team?
- What do you most want to improve about yourself?
- What would your last supervisor say were your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
How to answer, ‘What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?’
You can follow these steps to create a short list of responses when an interviewer poses this question.
1. Pinpoint relevant strengths.
Try to choose two or three required skills on the job description and prepare answers that illustrate your strengths in those skills. For example, if you are applying for an accounting job, consider highlighting your strong attention to detail, your excellent organizational skills or your proficiency with relevant accounting software.
2. Highlight minor weaknesses and focus on improvements.
You can mention areas that are related to but not critical for the job. For example, during an interview for an accountant role, consider mentioning that you have a tendency to invest too much time in projects because you want to execute them flawlessly. Then explain what you have done to decrease the time you spend on each project while still checking that your work is error-free.
3. Create a flexible script.
Have a few responses prepared so your answer fits the flow of the conversation. It is best to remember highlights instead of the whole response to sound more natural. Think about a few stories that illustrate these qualities, and be prepared to share the one that works best for the interview.
4. Use the STAR method.
Thanks to its simple acronym, this strategy is easy to remember and implement during an interview. Follow these steps to frame your answer and provide context to the interview question, ‘What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?’
Situation: Discuss the circumstances that you experienced.
Task: Mention your role in the situation.
Action: Explain the specific steps you took to resolve the issue.
Result: Reveal the outcome of the situation.
Example answers to use in an interview
Use these samples as templates for developing your answer to this common interview question.
Strength example 1: Show that you are the best candidate to solve a pressing problem
‘I excel at devising creative solutions to issues, especially when marketing campaigns do not produce expected results. As a mid-level marketing professional, I often lead projects for my team and take responsibility for the outcome. Although I have a natural ability to solve problems, I also have made an effort to develop my creative thinking skills by completing team brainstorming and critical thinking training programs. These efforts have helped me approach problems more creatively and lead more effectively.’
Strength example 2: Focus on how you will be an asset to the team
‘Managing team projects is one of my greatest strengths. It is a skill I have steadily improved since my first entry-level accounting role until my current position as an accounting manager. As an entry-level accountant, I oversaw my own projects, and as a mid-level accountant, I began to take responsibility for small team projects. More recently, as an accounting manager, I have led department-wide initiatives. As a result, I have extensive experience with developing projects from brainstorming to completion.’
Weakness example 1: Highlight a non-essential skill
‘I have always struggled with my writing, and until recently, even composing emails was challenging. Even though I am an accountant and focus most of my professional energy on numbers and data, I recognize that clear writing is essential. I recently started taking a class to improve my written communication skills, and I have already found that my emails produce the result I want more quickly.’
Weakness example 2: Demonstrate your willingness to improve
‘After receiving negative feedback about my delegation skills, I knew that I needed to improve, especially as a mid-level marketing manager. I asked my supervisor about a management training program and enrolled in weekly sessions right away. My ability to delegate and manage both staff members and projects has improved significantly. I have already received positive feedback from team members and supervisors.’