What are your Strengths & Weaknesses?

Posted on Thursday, May 30, 2019 by Maire GerrardNo comments

This is one of the most common interview questions, as it holds relevance regardless of the role type and sector. Given it is something we should expect as part of any interview process, why does it fill almost everyone with a sense of dread?

Interviewees worry that by admitting to weaknesses they risk portraying themselves as a liability, whereas if they promote their strengths then they may come across as arrogant. It is true that there are fine lines to tread in both instances, but the following guidelines should ensure that anybody can approach this line of questioning with confidence:

1. Weaknesses – Avoid the red flag
While it is important to be authentic in your answer, be sure to pick a shortcoming that will not hinder your ability to excel in the role. To identify this, you must immerse yourself with the requirements of the specific role; found in the job description. For example, if you are forward for an IT position it would be concerning to hear about a lack of competency with a software used by that company, especially where it is an essential part of the person specification.

You should also pick a weakness where there is scope for improvement, and better yet, explain the steps you have already taken in your development. Not only will this reassure the interviewer of your potential, but it also indirectly demonstrates your proactivity; an important attribute for success in any career.

2. Strengths – Be relevant
While picking a strength to discuss may initially be more intuitive in an interview than picking a weakness, it is equally as important to take the time to think about your answer and how to make it effective. Again, this is only achievable by reviewing the job description and understanding the exact traits the hiring manager is looking for.

You might impulsively think of a particular skill that you believe would help you in the role, and this may well be a correct assertion. However, it is always better to check this correlates with the person specification, with our Senior Manager, Johnny Shaw stating that any interviewee should have “thought about what the interviewer wants, and not just what they want to say.” There will likely be other questions in the interview that are less easy to prepare for, but by following this process you are guaranteed to have a successful answer that will resonate with the hiring manager.

3. Always prepare
Given that these questions are so common in interviews, there is really no excuse for being taken off guard and struggling to answer. If this happens, you risk giving the impression that you have something to hide with regards to weaknesses, or that you suffer from a crippling lack of confidence about your strengths.

You also need to ensure that whatever traits you decide on, you back up your reasoning and can answer follow up questions if probed. Thorough preparation really is the only way to guarantee this and come across as the best possible version of yourself.


To conclude, interviews are by nature slightly stressful, with career movements having a significant impact on overall happiness and prosperity. Even though these particular topics might form a small part of your interview, discussing such personal subjects without prior thought could throw you off kilter completely and have a detrimental impact on your approach for the remainder of the questions. Therefore, it is of huge importance to make the process as easy as possible for yourself by planning in advance.

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