Introduction on how to answer “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Job seekers frequently ask me how to answer “what are your strengths and weaknesses”. This classic job interview question is still very popular among recruiters, hiring managers and HR – so it is definitively worth taking a minute to prepare. This article will cover everything you need to know about how to answer “what are your strengths and weaknesses” so that you outshine the competition. After you are done reading, practice your answers at Voomer, so you can get free AI-powered interview prep and land that dream job.
Strengths – What your answer should communicate
The best answer to the first part of the “what are your strengths and weaknesses” question should communicate one thing, and one thing only:
- A competency of yours that aligns with the hiring organization’s values or competencies
Think of it this way – recruiters and hiring managers ultimately are trying to tick boxes during an interview. If you offer the information they are looking for on a silver platter, the chances of them ticking the necessary boxes and moving you onto the next stage of the job application process shoot up significantly. Search for the hiring organization’s values and competencies on their website and work those into your answer. Examples of values and competencies include:
- Customer focus
- Data analysis
- Attention to detail
- And many more
Find the ones that matter most to the hiring organization and build your answer around them. Keep scrolling to view some example answers.
Weaknesses – What your answer should communicate
The best answer to the second part of the “what are your strengths and weaknesses” question should communicate two things:
- Your weaknesses are consequences of being great at something else
- You are aware of your weaknesses and work to address them
If you cover those two items, your application will be stronger after you answer the “what is your weakness” question! In case you want to deliver an absolutely stellar answer, ensure you use the STAR method. That will keep your answer on track and make the interviewer’s life easier. Below are some example answers that will help illustrate the above points.
Example “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” answers
These example answers to “what are your strengths and weaknesses” are meant to inspire you and help you figure out a strong answer for you. Everyone’s career was built differently, so use the concepts shown below rather than copying something that doesn’t apply to you. A half-decent interviewer will quickly pick up on an answer that does not make sense.
Strength example 1: Innovation
“After visiting a trade show, I realized there were two technologies we used in our manufacturing processes but we could also adapt and combine them in a certain way to work with a department we always had productivity issues. The end result of using this technology in a new way was an increase in productivity of 30%!”
Strength example 2: Perseverance
“We needed to change our customer acquisition system to a more financially sustainable model. We started dabbling with YouTube videos but the first ones were terrible flops. However, we learned from the experience and made gradual improvements to our videos and today organic acquisition is how the business is powered.”
Strength example 3: Teamwork
“Different departments were only interested in their own departmental goals, not caring about the broader picture. I developed a program where once every two weeks people from non client facing departments would join the sales team on customer calls. It quickly became clear to many that we needed to have a stronger outward looking perspective on the business. We’ve adapted our processes as a consequence of that and today customers much happier.”
Weakness example 1: Not asking for help
“When I am given a task at work, my attitude is that is has to be done no matter what – and with the resources initially allocated. This means that sometimes if the task was harder or more complex that anticipated, I have a tough time asking for help and more resources. I’m working on this issue by giving myself a deadline to accomplish a task. If the task hasn’t been completed by that deadline, then I’ll ask a manager for help”. Why is this a strong answer: Despite the fact that the candidate reveals a weakness, that weakness also reveals very desirable attitudes – initiative, determination and grit. The candidate also makes it clear that this is an issue that they are working on and have already put systems in place to solve the issue.
Weakness example 2: Impatience
“On occasion I don’t like the way a project is going and I get very impatient with our execution. This results in some tense meetings where I want to see results sooner rather than later. I’ve been working on this by recognizing that some strategies take time to bear fruit”. Why is this a strong answer: The candidate recognizes that impatience is a problem for them. However, they frame it in a way that demonstrates being extremely goal-orientated. That is a fantastic quality that any organization would love to have in all its employees.
Weakness example 3: I bit off more than I can chew
“I love taking on complex tasks that test the limits of my capabilities. Unfortunately that usually leaves me scrambling for more information or help from others so that we can deliver on time. I’ve been working on developing my capabilities BEFORE taking on challenging tasks!” Why is this a strong answer: The candidate revels a weakness but frames it in a way that demonstrates a massive amount of initiative. Interviewers love candidates with initiative since that skill is very hard to develop in people.
Next steps for you
Now that you know a couple of examples, it is time for you to try answering the “what are your strengths and weaknesses” question yourself with examples that pertain to you. Head over to Voomer where you can get AI-powered feedback on your answers and prep on questions for thousands of other organizations and land that dream job!