We’ve all encountered that part of an interview where we must reflect on our strengths and weaknesses. This type of question often leaves applicants rehearsing responses that they believe are well-crafted and what an interviewer wants to hear rather than what’s honest.
The point of this and other popular publications on the topic is not to sway from proper preparation for all types of interview questions but to truly consider the impact of your answers. So, here’s what’s being said.
Rather than assuming the “strengths and weaknesses” interview question is a placeholder for more meaningful questions, Coursera recommends that interviewers attempt to better evaluate the question’s intention. After all, each question a hiring authority asks should reveal some vital quality determining whether you move forward in the hiring process.
“This common question is a helpful tool for interviewers to understand your personality and working style.”
How you convey your strongest asset will help employers analyze the professional and personal value you bring to the organization and role you’re applying for. Identifying areas for improvement is also key for determining your development on your career path. All in all, this question is a chance for interviewers to predict the type of projects that’ll best suit your strengths and the type of support that’ll best nurture your potential.
Getting into the thick of it, Caroline Forsey with Hubspot focuses strictly on the “weaknesses” part of this double-edged interview question. In this article, she thoroughly analyzes the strategy behind picking a weakness and even offers a list of top responses to the question. The biggest insight shared is to not consider this type of questioning as a deal breaker unless you’re dishonest or disingenuous.
Interviewers are “not looking to find out about your hard professional skills and attributes; other questions are better suited for that. Rather, they want to know if you have enough self-awareness to identify your opportunities for growth.”
More than what your answer may be, how you deliver your answer also makes an impact. For instance, are your strengths something you express overconfidence about, or is your “weakness” more like an opportunity to humble brag? A helpful bit of advice when approaching this interview question is to maintain your professionalism while relaying your strengths and shortcomings.
This piece with Robert Half reminds interviewees to be thoughtful about not responding in a way that harms their chances in the running of being hired by a prospective employer. Considering the job description and the needs of the role, it would be detrimental to disclose a weakness essential to the open position. Instead, your answer should be used to turn a negative into a positive.
“It’s an opportunity to show the employer how you can learn from constructive criticism, how you’re willing to make changes when you face challenges, and how you can pick yourself up and dust yourself off when you falter.”
Leveraging weaknesses and areas of improvement in an interview doesn’t have to be an art. It’s all about framing how you plan to develop the skill or shortcoming while on the trajectory of your career path.
Everyone wants to put their best foot forward in an interview, even if their current “best” is a work in progress. Job applicants should take advantage of the interview question, “What’s your greatest weakness?” to highlight growth potential. Each interview question serves a purpose, and though your response to the question may not be a make-or-break answer in the grand scheme of things, it’ll help interviewers get a better feel for how you’ll face and overcome adversity when with them.
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