How to present your Strengths and Weaknesses in a Job Interview

Discover your strengths
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Two girls on online job interview

During the interview process, you will likely be asked about your strengths and weaknesses – personality characteristics that show whether you are a good fit for the role and company.

If, like most candidates, you’re unsure how to respond to this question, we’re here to help you give an honest, thoughtful answer that shows your self-awareness and professionalism.

We’ve collated the best advice on how to confidently discuss your strengths and weaknesses.

1. Prepare ahead & identify your strengths and weaknesses

You are reading this article – that’s a great start! It is really important to not go into an interview unprepared. So, first things first – in order to talk about your strengths and weaknesses in a job interview you need to know what they actually are.

What are your greatest strengths?

The quicker and simpler way to identify your strengths is to complete our Good&Co personality quiz and receive your own unique Soft Skills CV which includes insights into your workstyle.

One way to list your strengths is to draw on any previous feedback you’ve been given.

If you have previous work experience, this is pretty straightforward – you can probably think of specific circumstances where you did good (and it was noticed!) and felt able to utilise your talents to go that extra mile.

But you may be new to the job-market or have experienced some time out from working life. Here you can always draw on educational or personal feedback that’s been positive.

Uncover Your Greatest Strengths in 3 minutes

What are your biggest weaknesses?

While strengths may be easier to identify, we may not always want to admit to our areas of weakness – especially at an interview when we want to present our best selves. But we all have them and it’s not all bad if we think of them as areas of development and improvement. In fact, presenting them in this way shows integrity and self-awareness.

If you find it hard to think of your weaknesses, come back to your list of strengths. What is the opposite of these strengths? Is that something you may struggle with? If you are, for example, really good at connecting with people, networking and forming relationships, would you, on the other hand perhaps, find it difficult to work by yourself?

2. Apply your strengths and weaknesses to the desired role

Now that you have your list, think about the job you are applying for. What strengths are relevant to it? What weaknesses are not welcomed?

Sometimes the job description mentions characteristics that are needed for the role. If not, look at similar jobs posted to identify what strengths are generally required. Failing that, look at the company website and see how they describe themselves – this will also give you insight into how well you would fit with their culture.

Pick a strength that is relevant to that particular role. It’s always best to provide examples of when you have displayed that strength in the past and how exactly this could be useful in the role you are applying for.

When applying for a role as assistant hotel manager you could highlight something like:

“One of my greatest strengths is really staying calm and focused under pressure. When working in my last role, we had water damage in our hotel that affected some of the rooms. I quickly rearranged accommodation for the affected guests in other rooms or hotels nearby as well as vouchers for a free lunch in the hotel’s restaurant, so the guests could have a relaxed meal while I was reorganising. I was able to keep the guests calm and content by being transparent and reassuring about the situation. I believe this trait would allow me to lead a new team through various difficult situations that you face when managing a high-class hotel with a large number of rooms and guests like this.”

When applying for a sales related role you could mention something like:

“I love meeting new people; this has been a huge asset in forming new client relationships and getting more business for the last company I worked with. I met some potential new clients at an afterwork event and was able to book them in for a meeting the following week to show them our products. They signed a contract with us just a couple of weeks later. I think in this role I could use this trait not only to build rapport with existing and new clients, but also internally with new colleagues, so I could benefit and support a new team on all levels.”

3. Focus on weaknesses that are NOT relevant to the role

When talking about your weaknesses, home in on those that are not essential for the role – you don’t want to disqualify yourself.

When applying for a role as a campaign manager you could mention that you don’t work well in solitude:

“I’ve sometimes felt isolated when working on solo projects, I can get frustrated and start to feel lonely.”

4. Don’t just state your weakness – show your willingness to improve

Don’t stop after naming your weakness. Ensure the weaknesses you share are fixable as well as demonstrating how you are working on them. Showing how you’re taking steps to improve on weaknesses will not only show self-awareness, it will show commitment to personal and professional growth.

Picking up the example above:

“I’ve sometimes felt isolated when working on solo projects, I can get frustrated and start to feel lonely. However, I have developed a strategy for having to work alone. I always make sure to book in regular meetings with colleagues, even if they don’t work on the project with me. This way I can still bounce some ideas off as well as staying in touch with the wider company - having some social interaction helps avoid feeling isolated.”

When applying for a role as a retail assistant:

“While I enjoy helping out customers on the shop floor, I am nervous talking in large groups. Since taking a course on presentation skills, I’ve increased my confidence to speak up in big team sessions as well as public-speaking in general.”

5. Turn negatives into positives

Switching it around shows you are mindful of this characteristic and are able to prevent it getting in the way of your performance.

“I have a tendency to be quite direct in my communication. When asked for feedback in past roles, I sometimes came across as somewhat harsh. I’ve improved on this by ensuring to give positive as well as negative feedback instead of just focusing on the negative. However, I can be relied upon to give an honest and objective answer and have also developed a strategy to temper this when sensitivity is needed.”

“I can be quite self-critical and take feedback to heart at times, but this has led me to be thorough in reviewing my work before signing it off. I’ve also learnt to take feedback as an opportunity to improve and learn from mistakes.”

6. Have more than one example prepared

Sometimes one example may not be enough. The interviewer may just want to get to know you better or was not fully convinced by the first one you presented. Make sure you prepare at least 3 examples, so you have your responses ready. To find out more about your strengths and weaknesses and think of more examples click here.

How NOT to answer ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses’?

  1. 01

    Don’t be arrogant or dishonest about your strengths and abilities – you’ll be found out eventually – and the point of the interview is to make sure the job is a good fit for you.

  2. 02

    Don’t use the obvious ‘old’ examples, especially for weaknesses – I’m too attentive to detail, too much of a perfectionist, too hard working – those may sound disingenuous as recruiters and hiring managers will have heard these many times.

  3. 03

    When talking about your strengths or weaknesses, don’t humblebrag – it comes across as self-elevation and no-one wants to work with someone who puts down others to boost their own self-esteem.

  4. 04

    If you’re not talented at making jokes – the interview is not the best time to start practicing them.

  5. 05

    Don’t be defensive or apologetic for your weaknesses – everyone has them, there is no need to apologize.

The key is to be honest, show self-awareness and an ability to learn from mistakes – do this and you’ll nail that interview!