Interview Tips: How to Answer the “What are Your Strengths and Weaknesses” Question

As businesses return to normal following the COVID-19 outbreak, companies are starting to interview job candidates for positions which were put on hold due to the pandemic. For those of you preparing for upcoming interviews, while you have all your answers ready, you may be dreading the common interview question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” The question is nearly always asked in some form or another, often causing the most confident candidates to stumble. Why? Because if you are like most job seekers, you are simply unsure of how to answer and wondering exactly what the interviewer is hoping to find out.

The recruiting professionals at Ascendo Resources are here to help with interviewing tips to help you provide interviewers with the answers they are looking for when they ask about strengths and weaknesses.

How We Prepare Our Candidates for an Interview 

Most people have a good idea of how to prepare for an upcoming interview starting with these tried and true pieces of advice:

  • Research the company you’re interviewing with (and the interviewers if you know who they are).
  • Practice answers to questions like “Tell me about yourself” and “Why are you interested in this company/position?” In other words, have your elevator pitch ready.
  • Review the job description as it relates to your experience and skills. Prepare answers on how you’ve applied those skills and experience successfully in the past.
  • Prepare questions for your interviewer(s).
  • Dress for your interview according to the company’s dress code.
  • Bring your resume (multiple copies) and arrive early.
  • Be respectful, practice good manners and appropriate body language.
  • Answer honestly, with concise, focused responses, and don’t speak negatively about past employers.

But, when you least expect it, here comes the “strengths and weaknesses” question. Sometimes it is framed as a single question, at other times it may come as multiple queries. The truth is, you want to answer honestly, speaking candidly and in context, in a way that shows professionalism as well as how you hope to grow in the future.

Let’s prepare with some examples of common strength and weakness questions and answers from our experienced team at Ascendo Resources.   

Answering Honestly – What are Your Strengths? 

Interview Preparation: What are your strengths

What are your strengths? Some find this question easy to answer while others struggle, striving to be both confident and humble at the same time. At Ascendo Resources, our team works to prepare every candidate with the answers needed to showcase skills, habits, and personality traits positively, addressing the unique qualities which distinguish you and qualify you for the position.

Here are some examples to help you prepare to answer the “What are your strengths?” question in any interview.

  • Interpersonal Skills – “As a caring individual, I can relate to others and help them feel heard and validated in their concerns. Even in situations where the company I represent can’t meet their requests, I know that hearing the customer out, empathizing with the situation, and offering alternative solutions can leave the customer feeling positive about our company after our interaction.”
  • Leadership Strengths – “I am a natural leader, one who realizes the significance of bringing together and leading diverse, highly skilled This strong suit has helped me hone my natural leadership skills throughout my career.”
  • Technical Skills – “I have extremely strong (writing, technical, design, etc.) skills. Having worked to enhance my skills for xx years across varied industries, I have learned to harness creativity, performance, and excellence. I hope to apply my skills and passion here to contribute to the company’s goals as well as the bottom line.”
  • Organizational Strengths – “I am highly organized and have the ability to coordinate tasks and team members to meet deadlines and accomplish goals.”

These examples should help you prepare your responses according to your experience, skills, and personal traits, but keep these points in mind: Be focused and offer relevant responses, don’t be overly arrogant, exaggerate or lie about your strengths, or be too humble. If you aren’t certain of your strengths, look at written evaluations from past managers, or ask friends or colleagues about your best qualities. Remember, your strengths’ response should be what sets you apart as the ideal candidate for the position.

Answering Truthfully – What are Your Weaknesses?

How to answer the strengths and weaknesses interview question

This question often poses the greatest challenge in an interview, which is why at Ascendo we work to prepare our candidates with “the right answer”. The truth is, there is no single “right answer” to the question. The interviewer is actually asking how you handle adversity when it happens on the job.

The best approach as you prepare your response is to consider limitations which cause you challenges in the workplace or areas in which previous managers have noted as areas for improvement for you.

Here are some examples to help you answer the “What are your weaknesses?” question in any interview.

  • Attempting to Solve Problems Alone – “I try to solve problems on my own, which is okay in some situations, but often I am reminded I need the assistance of others, especially when circumstances are beyond my control. I am learning that I need to step back from attempting to micromanage every detail and instead, utilize the wealth resources around me.”
  • Lack of Expertise – “I am not familiar with ‘non-critical software’ or ‘hardware’ or ‘brand of equipment’, etc; Rather, I have used xxx and xxx, learning the basics and beyond with online courses. As a result, I have been empowered through the realization that as an adult, I still have the ability to learn and grow.”
  • Perfectionism – “I have always tended toward perfectionism, focusing on details, which I have learned can negatively affect deadlines and others on my team. Today, I work hard to focus not only on the details and quality of my work, but also on positively affecting timely completion of projects.”
  • Overly Self-Critical – “I realize I can be overly critical of myself, even when I do well objectively. To overcome negative self-talk which comes as a result, I am taking time to celebrate each achievement – large or small. It has helped my self-assurance and helped me appreciate my co-workers and team members more too.”

These examples are designed to help you prepare your responses, but as you do, be truthful and keep your focus on how you have recognized the weakness and are adapting and actively improving. Your response should frame your weakness as positively as possible, showing that you recognize the weakness and are working to better yourself.

As you prepare for your upcoming job interviews, Ascendo Resources can help! Call today and discover all the ways the experts at Ascendo aid job seekers just like you.

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