Many people find it challenging to talk about their strengths and weaknesses during an interview. It can be hard to balance humility with the need to project confidence. In preparation for an interview, you should consider how best to answer this question so that the answer is useful to employers and also enhances your chances of being hired.

Here we provide a comprehensive guide to giving a professional and impressive answer to the question, "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" 

Outlining your strengths 

When an interviewer asks you to explain your strengths, what they’re looking for is a list of both hard and soft skills that make you stand out. You want to use the job description as a guide for this and pick strengths that highlight why you’re a good fit for the role. Good strengths to include might be:  

  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills 
  • Leadership skills
  • Writing skills 

In general, your strengths should be skills that can be supported through experience. For example, if you list communication as a strength, you may want to recall a situation in which you used communication to reach a goal or resolve a problem. You should also make sure you are alluding to skills that appear on the job description. 

Examples of good answers to ‘What are your strengths’

“I consider my leadership skills to be some of my biggest strengths. During my time as a department head, I successfully merged two teams and organised training programs for all team members to ensure that everyone was confident in their new role. As a result, we were able to increase sales by 5% within our first month as a new team.”

“Thanks to my experience as an HR representative, I have gained excellent communication skills. I was responsible for setting up workshops for staff members and mediating any conflicts in the workplace. I have also completed an online course on effective communication.”

Outlining your weaknesses 

When citing weaknesses, it is important to be honest without actually undermining your application. Some examples of weaknesses may include: 

  • Public speaking 
  • Presentation skills 
  • Inability to delegate 
  • Taking criticism 

When answering this question, you should also follow this up with a way you are trying to improve the skills you lack. If the weakness you highlight is a hard skill set out in the job description, make sure that you emphasise your desire to acquire this skill through a particular course or program. Similarly, listing a soft skill you lack should be supported with a plan to learn or improve in this area.

Examples of good answers to ‘What are your weaknesses’ 

“I find public speaking intimidating and have sometimes struggled with presentations. This is something I would like to work on now I am applying for a more senior role. I have seen a public speaking course online that I would like to sign up to. This should help me become more confident and learn to structure a speech more effectively.”

“I can sometimes struggle with delegating and choose to take on a larger workload to ensure that a task is completed perfectly. I know that this puts more pressure on myself, so I have recently been using new software tools such as Asana to assign tasks to others and track their completion. So far this has helped me to trust my co-workers and focus more on my own tasks.”

More interview advice

Job interviews are among the most nerve-wracking part of the job-search process, which is why being prepared makes all the difference. Want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward? Read our huge collection of career advice articles including top tips for interviews, expert advice on growing your career, and how to be happier at work. 

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