When discussing your strengths and weaknesses in a job interview, be honest, tell a story, keep it short, and more.

Applying for jobs and interviewing is time-consuming and nerve-wracking. Probably no one enjoys this process, including the part where you have to discuss your strengths and weaknesses with strangers. Almost every interviewer asks you these types of questions, and even though you may breathe an internal sigh every time you hear it, at least it’s common enough that you can prepare. Here’s what to say when the interviewer asks the standard, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” question.

Honesty is Still the Best Policy

Interviewers are trying their best to get to know you in the very short time they meet you. Keep in mind they are extrapolating information both from what you say and how you say it. They may not try to trip you up, but interview questions are designed to get to the heart of what motivates you, your work ethic, and experience. Answering the strengths/weaknesses question honestly, but succinctly is the best way to connect with the interviewer. Try to be humble but also realistic about what you bring to the table and what skills you need to work on.

Try Telling a Story

Many times interviewers will use behavioral questioning that starts with, “Tell me about a time when you,” as a way to get a concrete example of a job skill. You can use this same technique to tell a story that illustrates your strengths or weakness. This is something you should practice so you don’t ramble and so you’re clear in your approach. For example, you can tell the interviewer about a time at work when the strength came in handy, or when a weakness tripped you up. Sharing a real example will give the interviewer some context and also help you stand out a bit from other candidates.

Add What You Learned

If you’re sharing a story about your weakness, try to also add what you learned about yourself in the process. For example, if you have problems staying organized, but use an app for time management, talk about how it’s helped you stay on track. Or, if you’re talking about strength, tell the interviewer how you think your skills will be a good fit for the job you’re applying for.

Stay Succinct

Make sure you respond to the interview questions on strengths and weaknesses in a positive, upbeat way, but do it succinctly. This is true for any question; go for quality and not quantity in the answers you give. Narrow your strengths to one or two and give a couple of examples. On the weaknesses side, pick one, and elaborate.

Match Your Answers To The Job Description

It’s also a good idea to review the job description in your mind when answering the strengths and weaknesses question. What strengths do you have that fit this particular job? What weaknesses can you mention that will put you in the best light for the role you’re applying for? During an interview, your goal is to position yourself so that you show off your skills. However, don’t go overboard and hyper-exaggerate your skills. Be honest, confident, and tell your story in the best way you can.

When you’re ready to practice your interviewing skills, talk to IES. We’re just a phone call away. Contact us today.

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