Knowing that your job interview is approaching, you’re probably feeling excited and nervous at the same time. To boost your confidence, it’s a good idea to be fully prepared before the big day.
Even though it's impossible to predict every interview question, there are several typical ones you should be ready for—and "What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?" is one of them.
Answering this question can be tricky, but we’ve got you covered!
Keep reading to learn how to describe your strengths and weaknesses in the best possible way to increase your chances of getting the job.
To answer the question “What is your greatest strength?” you need to explain how your strengths relevant to the position you’re applying for helped you solve a specific issue.
Some of the strengths you can mention during the interview include work ethic, self-control, adaptability, empathy, etc.
To answer the question “What is your biggest weakness?” list your weaknesses that won’t make the recruiter think you aren’t a good match for the specific position, such as inability to meet deadlines.
You should show your recruiters that you’re willing to work on your flaws by explaining what you do to overcome them.
The weaknesses you could list may include lack of experience, impatience, procrastination, shyness, etc.
How to Answer “What is Your Greatest Strength?”
Interviewers typically ask about your strengths to see whether they match the company's requirements. Knowing this will help them learn more about you and realize whether you’re a good fit for the role you’re being interviewed for.
When deciding on which strengths you should mention, keep the job listing in mind. Each job ad contains a list of requirements an ideal candidate should meet. Compare your strengths with the ones requested in the ad and mention those that seem most relevant for the role.
If you aren’t sure which strengths you should choose, you can always ask a friend, colleague, or an ex-boss of yours—if you’re on good terms with them—for their opinion. Some of them have already worked with you and know what your best qualities at work are.
Also, it’s not enough to just list a few strengths and call it a day—you must also have real-life examples of how you apply them at work. You can claim you’re great at multitasking or taking initiative, but without an example, the recruiter might not be able to tell if you’re lying about your strengths and weaknesses.
So here’s an easy formula for answering the “What are your strengths?” question:
State relevant strengths.
Give examples of how and when you used them in the past.
Explain the impact of your strengths (optional).
To show your versatility, make sure to talk about different strengths, such as hard skills, soft skills, and transferable skills. However, to avoid overdoing it (and coming off as arrogant!), you should narrow down your list of strengths and mention no more than five of them.
10+ Strengths for a Job Interview [+ Examples]
Like many applicants, you can find describing your strengths at work tricky and confusing. For example, you may be wondering how to answer this question without coming across as pretentious or full of yourself.
To help you solve this dilemma, we’ve created a list of strengths required for most jobs out there, as well as sample answers you can use to craft your own response.
Complete List of Strengths
Now, let’s see some examples of how you could describe each of the strengths listed above:
I am super flexible when it comes to work since I can effectively handle a variety of unexpected tasks. If necessary, I don’t mind stepping in for some of my coworkers when they aren’t able to come to work.
I also worked extra hours for a few months to help my former team finish an important project when one of the employees unexpectedly resigned in the middle of the process.
Work Ethic—Sample Answer
I have a strong work ethic, which means that nothing else matters until I get the job done. Also, I don't merely want to meet deadlines when working on a project. Instead, I prefer to bring the project to an end well before the deadline and do it flawlessly to achieve the best results. Last year, I got a bonus for going the extra mile and finishing a couple of reports a week early.
I’m proud of my ability to adapt to any changes, especially technological ones. In the previous position I worked in, I managed to get the gist of new programs and apps in no time and also helped my colleagues learn how to use them. I enjoy this because learning new things and adapting to new circumstances helps me leave my comfort zone and grow.
Writing Skills—Sample Answer
My writing skills are something I’m most proud of and one of the strongest assets I possess. I also consider my editing skills advanced since I’ve been working as an editor for the past 4 years.
I have written and edited 100+ publications on various topics, including technology, business, and medicine, so I believe I’m also skilled at shaping my writing style to fit the target readers.
I take pride in my ability to deal with problems. I've worked as a customer service representative for five years, and during that time, I've figured out how to quickly and effectively resolve consumer issues.
What helps me along the way is logical reasoning and the ability to view any given situation from various angles. It allows me to think quickly and outside the box and complete my work even in difficult circumstances.
Continuous Learning—Sample Answer
I find joy in adopting new skills and gaining new knowledge on a daily basis. I’m aware of the fact that the more I know, the more I can contribute to the company I work for. I believe that my thirst for knowledge and learning can help me bring prosperity and improve your company’s business methods.
For example, during the time I spent at the company I previously worked for, I completed several courses and training programs. This helped me get a better understanding of new software and learn how to use it without complications.
Working in groups to achieve common goals is something I've always enjoyed. Of course, I can adapt to individual work, but having coworkers around me and sharing ideas with them is what makes me thrive.
While overseeing the projects at the previous company I worked at, I did a pretty good job of motivating team members. Not only did I enjoy collaborating with others to meet project goals, but I also helped increase our teams’ efficiency by 12% in 9 months.
I’m always honest with my colleagues and employers because I believe that being truthful is the foundation of good collaboration. Whenever I felt that the workload was too much to handle or had problems with specific tasks, I didn’t hesitate to reach out to my supervisor and clearly express my concerns.
Time Management—Sample Answer
Time management is one of my strongest skills. Since I was a student, I managed to take part in various extracurricular activities while keeping a GPA of 3.7. Throughout my senior year, I've also done volunteer work, served on the student council, and practiced swimming all the while studying for my exams.
Besides all this, I’m a big fan of scheduling basically everything I do, as this helps me finish all my tasks on time. I can proudly say that, thanks to this trait of mine, I've never missed a deadline.
Thanks to my empathetic nature, I find it easy to make connections with people, understand what bothers them, and do my best to help them. This skill enabled me to efficiently operate in a variety of customer service-related positions, including customer support agent, waiter, and dispatcher.
Since I worked in several senior positions over the past 10 years, I believe my leadership skills are truly on point. While being in charge of the entire sales department at Company X, I managed to get all team members to work on a specific sales strategy together and contribute equally. I was there to ensure they have everything they need to get the job done.
During the first three months with me as a leader, our department increased the company’s sales by 8%.
I am extroverted by nature and enjoy making connections with people, which allowed me to develop solid communication skills. I strongly believe that listening to people and making them feel understood is the basis for attracting prospective clients’ attention and maintaining harmonious relationships in the workplace.
In my previous company, I was chosen to communicate with stakeholders and introduce them to the specifics of the projects we worked on. My team also expected me to handle all types of conflicts and miscommunications, as well as address any questions or dilemmas our clients had.
How to Answer “What is Your Biggest Weakness?”
By now, you should be able to address your strengths properly. But how do you respond when asked about your greatest weaknesses?
Before we tell you the secret to answering this question truthfully and without risking putting off the recruiter, let’s discuss why they’re interested in knowing your weak points.
Essentially, when a recruiter asks you to name your greatest weaknesses, they want to:
How To Answer
See if you’re honest enough to reveal a real weakness. Remember that if you get hired, your professional weaknesses will surface in some form. Therefore, it’s best to be upfront about them straight away.
Know if you’re capable of analyzing yourself. Don’t take it personally—recruiters aren’t asking you about your weaknesses to make you feel bad about yourself. They know that self-reflection is key to professional growth. As such, they want to see if you can recognize the areas that need improvement without others having to point them out.
Find out if you’re taking the steps to improve. The way you talk about your weaknesses reveals whether you have a fixed or a growth mindset. Recruiters don’t expect you to be perfect—they simply want you to be willing to work on your weak points.
No matter what, you should never say that you don’t have any weaknesses. Everyone has weaknesses, and trying to hide yours is a red flag for recruiters. Still, if you list too many, you may ruin your chances of getting hired.
That said, it’s important that you choose weaknesses that aren’t very relevant to the job you’re applying for. You can’t say, “My weakness is that I’m bad at communicating” if you’re applying for a job as a customer support agent, right?
Also, there are certain weaknesses you shouldn’t mention in any job interview, as they’re important for virtually any job. Some of these include:
What To Avoid
Inability to meet deadlines
Refusal to take feedback or accept constructive criticism
Poor attention to detail, etc.
And, as long as you emphasize your desire to learn it, you can state a hard skill from the job description as one of your weaknesses. The same goes for soft skills—you should have some kind of strategy for improving them. Showing a willingness to work on your weaknesses will only strengthen your case.
In the end, the most important thing you should remember is that you can—and ideally should—work on overcoming any weakness. This solely depends on your eagerness to identify your flaws and eliminate them.
12+ Weaknesses for a Job interview [+ Examples]
Having a proper response to the “What’s your biggest weakness?” question is key to a successful job interview.
Below, we’ve listed some of the weaknesses you could mention in a job interview. And, to help you effectively formulate your answer, we’ve prepared some sample answers!
List of Weaknesses
Dislike of teamwork
Exaggerated attention to detail
No knowledge of a particular software
Lack of experience
Now, let’s look at the sample answers:
I tend to avoid providing corrective feedback to my coworkers, fearing that they’ll misinterpret it and that it’ll hurt them. Also, I often hesitate to address any issues with my supervisor because I believe they’ll think I’m demanding or ungrateful.
However, after having a heart-to-heart conversation with one of my managers, I was encouraged to express some of my concerns without being afraid of the consequences. This helped me realize that I won’t be judged if I decide to stand up for myself or be honest.
Dislike for Teamwork—Sample Answer
I’m naturally introverted, which means I'm not really a team player. When I have to work with other people, I can’t reach the level of productivity I have when I work alone.
However, I learned to open up to the idea of teamwork after I had to complete a few large projects left behind by a former colleague. Because of the workload, six of my colleagues stepped in to help me out. This allowed me not only to avoid burnout but also to improve my delegation and collaboration skills.
I tend to be too hard on myself. Even though my coworkers believe I’m doing a good job, I’ll often feel like it’s not enough or like I should try harder. In reality, no one has ever told me I’m doing something wrong—it’s simply a personal impression.
Luckily, I’m aware of this flaw, and I do my best to come up with the best solution and learn how to be kinder to myself and leave perfectionism aside. Starting therapy helped me come up with multiple ideas on how to give myself recognition for the things I do well and focus on my positive qualities.
I can be very impatient at times. If something isn’t going the way it’s supposed to go, I get nervous. This leads me to want to fix things as soon as possible, even if that’s not an option at the given moment.
Of course, eventually I understood that people I work with find it hard to cope with this trait of mine. For this reason, I decided to work on my patience by taking a course on developing patience at work.
I've struggled with procrastination ever since I was in college—for example, I used to stay up all night to study for the exams that were supposed to take place the very next day. Even though it worked for me then, things changed when I got my first job.
I noticed that my procrastination doesn’t only affect my job responsibilities but also the productivity of the entire team. For this reason, I do my best to effectively organize my tasks, and I noticed I feel much better when I don’t need to rush to finish the work on time.
Due to my introverted nature, I’m pretty shy when it comes to communicating or working with other people. For example, I hesitate to speak up in front of people because I don’t feel comfortable when everyone is looking at me.
But, since I know it can be an issue, I’m working on changing this by trying to communicate with smaller groups of people and expanding my comfort zone one step at a time.
Public Speaking—Sample Answer
When speaking in front of people, I feel like all eyes are on me, which makes me rather anxious. I’m also afraid of making a mistake and getting confused when speaking in public . For example, I can create outstanding presentations, but I often have a hard time presenting the content I prepared verbally.
To overcome this flaw, I push myself to speak in front of people whenever possible, as I don't want this weakness to keep me from growing and prospering. For example, in my previous company, I volunteered to present our team’s weekly tasks and monthly results. Although I felt very uncomfortable at first, it helped me become more comfortable with public speaking.
Exaggerated Attention to Detail—Sample Answer
My attention to detail is quite intense. In the past, this resulted in me triple-checking each entry on a spreadsheet or proofreading emails a number of times to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes.
However, once I realized that it affected my productivity, I reached out to the organizational psychologist in our company. This way, I’ve learned useful tips on how to stop overthinking every single aspect of my work and wasting time on unnecessary tasks.
No Knowledge of a Particular Software—Sample Answer
I noticed that the position I applied for requires regular use of Airtable, which I haven’t used so far. However, since I’ve used Asana and other similar project management tools, I’m positive that I will get the gist of the program as soon as I get a chance to try it out.
Lack of Experience—Sample Answer
Even though I developed solid financial literacy skills during my studies, I didn’t have a chance to put them into practice. For this reason, revising and analyzing loads of financial data would be slightly challenging for me. Still, I’m pretty sure I can easily learn the process once I engage in it, as I tend to easily pick up new things.
I haven't always been great at organization. Maintaining a spotless workstation or an organized inbox wasn’t on the list of my priorities because the organization didn't seem to significantly increase my performance.
Over time, I've come to realize that maintaining a tidy desktop—both physically and virtually—helps me stay focused and improves my productivity.
Sometimes I take on tasks that could be easily delegated to another colleague. At times, I prefer to do everything by myself to ensure that the task is going to be done properly and on time.
However, I’m also aware that this tendency negatively affects my work-life balance. Because of this, I decided to learn more about the people I work with and their strong points. This way, I can assign my colleagues tasks that match their skills and expertise. Ultimately, this helps me be certain that they’ll do a great job, so I don’t need to do it for them.
Recently, I also started using a project management app that made it easy to track the status of every task I assigned. This helps me feel a lot more at ease when delegating tasks.