Interview Question #3: “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Many candidates I meet dread this question – but don’t let it bother you. Although highlighting your strengths is far easier than telling someone about your
weaknesses, there are ways to turn weaknesses into strengths.
First, though, we’ll talk about your strengths.
It might help to think of your interview as a blind date. Your interviewer is trying to find common ground between you – and you should meet them halfway. Remember the job description you read before you applied? That may outline strengths the company is looking for in a candidate; if you have them, now is the time to let the interviewer know.
There are also several strengths that apply to employment across the board – most employers like candidates who pay attention to detail, can work under pressure and are outgoing and friendly.
Now let’s discuss your weaknesses.
Don’t dread answering this part of the interview question; you can turn what you consider weaknesses into what the employer considers strengths. Remember, though, that anything you say is a weakness may cost you your chance at getting this job – be careful and plan your answer ahead of time.
Here’s a scenario with two candidates who are equally qualified:
Two candidates apply to work as an administrative assistant to a busy executive; the interviewer asks each to describe their weaknesses.
Candidate A tells the interviewer he’s got poor time-management skills. He’s out the door and the next candidate is talking to the interviewer before he even has a chance to explain. (The interviewer knows that someone with poor time-management skills is unlikely to be capable of maintaining a busy executive’s calendar.)
Candidate B uses her “weakness” to her advantage; she tells the interviewer that she speaks Spanish fluently, but can’t read or write it – but that she’s taking a class to learn. (Although that may not be directly useful to the position she’s applying for, it shows the interviewer she’s motivated to go the extra mile.)
Candidate B got the job.
Another way to impress an interviewer with your answer to this tough interview question is to say something like, “It’s hard to stay current on new technology – there are always new developments – so I take a class in computer software two or three times a year.” Remember, you can only say things if they’re true; however, it is hard (but necessary) to stay current on technology, so it’s not a bad idea to add classes to your to-do list.
Never let an interview question throw you through a loop. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” The more you interview, the more you learn.
Adam Personnel, Inc
Adam Temporary Services, Inc