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How to Answer “What is Your Greatest Strength and Weakness?”

It is important to have a strategy with you when you are attending an interview.  The only objective of any hiring manager is to find the candidate that will fill the position suitably. And this process of selecting the right candidate among the hundreds of applicants is done through various elimination processes, like tests and interviews. Interview is a place where the managers get to judge the character, personality and confidence along with the skill set of the candidates who have applied for the role. And in order to stand out of the crowd and show that you are the right person for the role, you need to prepare well and keep yourself ready to face any questions.

Answering skill based questions may not be a problem for a qualified person. Often, people find it difficult when they have to answer questions that sound very general, but are actually very deep in their meanings. The question regarding the strength and weakness is a classic example of how the interviewers judge a person and their ability to handle situations. This question is like a googly in a match of cricket, where the candidate is thrown off balance.

Strategy Behind the Question

You might wonder on what the big deal it is about this question. Well for one, it is not a single question but two questions forged into one. You are being asked about your strength and your weakness. The intention is to trip you, so that you may stutter or make a mistake that will give the interviewer a reason to eliminate you from the list. Let us see some tips that can help you handle this question with excellence.

Start with the Weakness

Even though the question queries about your strength first, you have to start with your weakness always and then end with the strengths that you have. The idea behind the question is to take a peek into your weaknesses and see if you are aware of them. Some of the hiring managers may not ask this question together but rather ask about your strengths and weaknesses separately. Nevertheless, when one question comes, you can expect the other to follow eventually.

The reason why you should start explaining your weakness is because when you end with the strengths, you are leaving a good taste about you in the minds of the interviewer. Now you might wonder, why would we deliberately inform our future employers of our weakness and whether this might hazard our opportunity in the company. Well, it is all about ensuring that you answer it minimally and have positives to outshine them. Few weaknesses which may not hinder your future would be,

  1. You can say that you are critical about the way you work.
  2. You try to please all.
  3. Your unfamiliarity with some latest technology, etc.

It is not just about listing down your weakness that is expected out of you. Your hiring manager would also want to see how you will overcome these weaknesses. For instance, if you are not very observant of smaller details, you can say,

Sample Answer: “I look at the big picture and might sometimes not pay attention to the details which is the reason I always have the opinion of a person in my team who has an eye on detail.”

This shows not only how you overcome your weakness, but it also showcases you as a team player. [Best Answer for "What Are Three Positive Character Traits You Don't Have?"]

Stating Your Strengths

Now this might sound easy. But this is equally tricky. You don’t want to come across as an overly enthusiastic person but you also want to sound convincing. So what should you bear in mind?

  1. Do not give irrelevant answers when you are talking about your strengths. For instance,

”I am a pro in playing football and I have a firm grip”,

is not the answer they are looking for. Also, when you give irrelevant answers, you are thought of as a person with no real strengths and you lose the opportunity to win over the interview.

  1. Don’t be aggressive in what you say. For instance, saying that you are the best that the company can get will sound too over confident and exaggerating, even if that is the truth. Try to keep it natural.
  2. Do not blabber about all your positives in a single go. You need to select two or three top qualities of yours and put forth them with confidence. Too much information about your self is definitely not welcomed by the interviewer anywhere.

Sample Answer: "I am funny, I love being part of a team, I am a born leader, I am good at working with others. I focus on my work, I am very good in paying attention to even the smallest of details, I work strenuously, I plan meticulously, I work until the job is finished. I don’t leave anything to chance. I am very happy to be working in this company and to attend an interview here."

This is a strictly not acceptable answer.

  1. Do not confuse your strength with weakness. Many people think that promising yourself as a workaholic is the best strength while in actuality, it may not be perceived so.

Scripting the Right Answer

Your answer should be well researched and it should match with the requirements of the job and that of the company. The idea is to make sure that your interviewer looks at you as the right candidate and to do so, he/ she need to know that your qualities are absolutely what they want from a candidate. A good answer would be,

Sample Answer: “I am committed to my work and I ensure that any challenge is faced with enthusiasm and fervor. I love taking up new challenges which will push my thinking. I place my clients first before myself. Being part of the customer service industry for the last couple of years, I have learned a great deal on people and use it to ensure that I give 100% commitment to them.”