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How to Identify your Strengths and Weaknesses

Whatever job you are chasing, if it requires an interview then you are sure to be asked about your strengths and weaknesses. Of course, everyone has both and it's important that you cover the two parts of the question, or you won't be answering it fully. It is also crucial that you deal with the question in such a way that the interviewers can find the strengths in you that they are looking for during the interview process. In the same regard, there will be attributes that you may possess which could be viewed as weaknesses by the interviewer. To avoid getting into pitfalls, approach the interview intending to get the message across about what benefits you will bring to the organisation.

Below are some tips that you may consider in terms of your strengths and weaknesses when replying to interview questions.

Your strengths

Give some thought as to what you are good at and consider how you can put it across without coming across as showing off, boasting or exaggerating. Be prepared to give examples of evidence in order to back up what you say.

It's worth taking a look at the job description and trying to identify, for yourself, what you think the necessary strengths for the role may be. Can you associate yourself with those? The role may involve dealing with facts and figures, in which case the employer will be looking for things like 'attention to deal' and 'analytical skills'. It may be less important that you are outgoing, open, warm and friendly, which may best suit a customer service role.

It's always good to be able to give examples of when you have previously demonstrated a particular skill. Whilst giving thought to the strengths required for a role, think about what you have done in the past that would reinforce your response to those particular questions.

If you are not completely sure about your strengths and perhaps need a second opinion, you could asked trusted friends or colleagues, or even take a personality test.

Your weaknesses

No-one is perfect, so you will have to consider what you are going to tell them as one of your weaknesses; ideally something that doesn't appear to rule you out of the role. Some good advice is to identify something that isn't crucial to the job for which you are applying, then try to make it a positive thing by showing how you have identified it in yourself and have taken steps to overcome it. If you have examples of how things have improved due to your efforts, even better.

Also, don't try to 'over answer' this part of the question and keep it concise. As it's about your weaknesses, you will not score too many points by talking more about your weaknesses, so make sure the question is answered and then look to move on. Also try to keep your answer focussed on work-related matters, or there is a danger you will go into all sorts of awkward areas that you should keep out of your work life. We probably don't need to give examples here.

The overall aim is for you to give a good impression, tell the interviewer why you are a good candidate for the role and give examples of the positive things you have done previously. It definitely pays to do your homework on the organisation and learn about the things that they are most likely to want from you, which will help you answer the questions in the most appropriate fashion. Good luck.