One of the most common interview questions is, “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.” However, it’s one of the most common questions people fail to answer correctly. Although most people answer in a tricky way, the question is not designed to trick you. Interviewers use this question to make sure you are self-aware and capable of reflecting. Everyone has strengths, and yes, everyone has weaknesses. So, don’t try to trick the interviewer by giving a phony answer for this question. How should you answer this question without coming across as narcissistic or insincere?

Before you begin any interview, you need to be prepared to share your strengths. After all, sharing your strengths is really the entire purpose of the interview. Read over the job description and make a list of all of the ways you meet the needs of the job. For example, if part of the job description reads, “Required to maintain relationships with clients,” then think of your strengths related to this. Are you good at building rapport and building relationships? Are you a people-person? Go through each requirement of the job description and think of a specific way that you are able to fulfill the requirement. Then, develop a theme for your answers. Are most of your answers related to being a people person? Are most of your answers related to your ability to lead? Or your strong analytical abilities? What is the common theme among your answers? That is the strength you should lead with to answer the question and provide specific examples. Answer the question with confidence and sincerity but be careful not to come across as arrogant.  

Now for the more difficult part of the question, how to share your weakness while sounding humble, sincere, and admitting to being imperfect. Everyone has weaknesses, so do not worry, you are not any different than any other candidate. What will truly differentiate you is your ability to admit to your weakness. As a good rule of thumb, don’t mention personal qualities, concentrate on professional traits. Once again, keep the requirements of the position in mind. If the requirements of the position are to lead large meetings, do not say, “I am not a good public speaker.” Try to think of something that wouldn’t be a major impact to the position and provide an example of how you are actively trying to improve your weakness. For example, if you are interviewing for a data analytics position, then you can admit to not being a good public speaker, since this wouldn’t affect your ability to do the job. However, still explain that you plan to enroll in a public speaking class to improve this skill.  

Still nervous to answer this question, or have other questions about the interview process? We are here to help. Contact us at 816-986-0909 to sign up for interview coaching.