Talking about strengths and weaknesses in interviews

One of the most common and nerve-wracking questions in an interview is ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’ How do you even begin to answer that? There’s no need to worry, as YoungCapital is ready to help you through the process. We’re here to talk you through the reasoning behind this question, examples of what to say, and how to approach it. There won’t be a single weakness holding you back from finding your ideal role! Follow our tips and tricks, and you’ll have everything you need to ace your interview thanks to your strengths, and regardless of your weaknesses.

What are strengths and weaknesses?

So, what exactly are your strengths and weaknesses? On a very basic level, a strength is something you’re good at, and a weakness is something you’re not. A strength can be a certain ability you have or skill you’ve developed. A weakness, on the other hand, is usually something you’re lacking or haven’t perfected yet. They can be soft or hard skills and abilities. That is to say, things that are generally helpful in life, or ones that are specific to the job you’re applying for. You’ll need different strengths and weaknesses for every job, so each interview will require a different answer.

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is an essential part of preparing for your interview. It’s very easy for us to talk about our weaknesses, as we can often be overly critical of ourselves. It’s much more challenging to share our strengths and what we’re good at. Thinking about it ahead of time will mean you’re ready to go when you get called into an interview. There are different types of interviews that you might experience, but most of them will involve asking about your strengths and weaknesses.

Why are you asked about strengths and weaknesses in an interview?

What’s the point of asking about your strengths and weaknesses in an interview? How does it benefit you or the interviewer? Well, from your side as a candidate, it gives you the opportunity to talk about your abilities that aren’t obvious from your experience or your CV. For example, you might not be able to show off your knack for teamwork and communication from your job as a programmer.

There won’t just be interview questions based on your strengths, though; the interviewer will also ask about what you’re not as skilled at. You can use that to talk about how you want to develop yourself and your skills, and show that you can be self-aware. The best weaknesses to say in an interview are the ones that you can work on in the job you’re applying for.

From the employer’s point of view, it’s about finding out how the candidate will fit into the job and company. They’ll ask about your strengths in the interview to know what you’ll bring to their company, and how you add to the team. For example, if you say you’re good at working independently, they’ll know they can trust you in a remote role.

There’ll be questions in the interview about your biggest weaknesses, so they know where you might need extra support. You can also explain to them how you’re working on and developing your weaknesses. This shows that you’re aware of your own limits, and are not afraid of hard work and self-reflection.

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Examples of strengths for interviews

It can be tough figuring out what your greatest strengths are for your job interview. Like we said, it’s easier to focus on the negatives than the positives. But don’t worry, you don’t need to stay mulling over them for hours and hours. We’ve compiled a list of examples of strengths to use in your interview:

  • Creative
  • Flexible
  • Dedicated
  • Honest and honourable
  • Interested in growth and learning
  • Self-controlled and disciplined
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Detail-oriented
  • Passionate
  • Empathetic
  • Problem solver
  • Leader
  • Expert in [skill/software/programme]

Not all of these can or should be used for every job interview. It’s up to you to decide which ones are most relevant for you. For example, say you’re looking for a job as a carer. You probably want to focus more on how patient you are rather than your entrepreneurial skills.

Examples of weaknesses for interviews

While you go on and on about your strengths, don’t let your weaknesses mess with your job interview. Whatever your biggest or greatest weakness is, you can answer the interview question in a way that makes you look good. We’ve come up with some solid examples for you to use:

  • Self-critical
  • Overly introverted/extroverted
  • Sensitive to criticism and overly-emotional
  • Uncomfortable with public speaking/presenting
  • Disorganised and prone to procrastination
  • Uncomfortable with leadership roles
  • Risk-averse
  • Competitive
  • Lack of experience
  • Lack of [skill/knowledge/ability]

Once again, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t use just any weakness for any job interview. A good weakness to use is one that reflects your desire to grow and learn. If you’re going for a job in marketing, for example, you might say that having limited knowledge of Photoshop is a weakness. But, it’s something you can learn easily enough, so it shouldn’t hold you back! Stick to ones that are true as well; you don’t want to be caught up in a lie, as that’ll only end in you getting flustered.

How to talk about your strengths and weaknesses in an interview

Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are before your interview is only step one. The next part of your interview prep is knowing how to make them work for you. You don’t want to brag or put yourself down too much – it’s all about finding a balance. A good way to answer what your biggest strengths and weaknesses are is to use the STAR technique.

The STAR technique is a common and effective method of answering questions productively. You can use it to give context to your strengths and weaknesses during the interview, so the interviewer knows how you put it into practise. It helps to give a more all-around view of your skills or potential by showing off your behaviour. Adding context and background information makes your skills more believable because you can actually demonstrate them.

We’ve crafted a couple of examples of how to answer your strengths and weaknesses in an interview using this method, so you have an idea of how to go about it. Check out our full article to get a more in-depth look.

My greatest strength is my leadership abilities. An example of when I used them would be in my rugby club, when we were planning our 20-year anniversary celebrations. The plans were very disorganised and unclear, and the deadline was fast approaching, so somebody had to take charge. I took over the reins and started delegating and assigning tasks. I coordinated all the meetings and made final decisions. In the end, the celebrations went off without a hitch, and we received a lot of compliments on the events from guests.

An unfortunate weakness of mine is my time management skills. For example, while working in my uncle’s flower shop last summer, I was in charge of preparing orders for collection. I found it difficult to get everything done in a timely manner, and on a number of occasions the orders were not ready in time. I did work on fixing it by prioritising tasks and preparing some products ahead of time, which definitely helped my workflow and ability to deliver on time. However, it’s still a weakness that I’m trying to improve.

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Strengths and weaknesses in interviews: in short

It’s almost guaranteed that the interviewer will ask you about your strengths and weaknesses during a job interview. It’s an easy way for interviewers to learn more about what you’re like, both as a person and an employee. While it can be tough to talk about yourself, it’s not something you should be worried about. Just remember our simple tips, and you shouldn’t have any issues.

  • Find a balance between talking about strengths and weaknesses, as you don’t want to seem too self-absorbed or too negative.
  • Use strengths and weaknesses that complement the job you’re applying for.
  • Use the STAR technique to make your answers more concrete.

Following these tips will allow you to give the best and most helpful interview answers about your strengths and weaknesses. Make sure you have them prepared before your interview so that you’re not left clamouring for answers on the spot. Check out all the rest of our interview tips to make sure you’re as prepared as you possibly can be. Have you got everything together, but no interview lined up? Check out all our vacancies and start applying for some great jobs. And don’t forget to use our free CV maker so that you have the best tools to apply with.

FAQs about strengths and weaknesses in interviews

  • Should you have specific strengths and weaknesses for specific job interviews?

  • While there’s no right or wrong strength or weakness to use in an interview, it’s wise to give answers that are relevant to the job. You can boost your chances by giving a strength or weakness that would be useful or applicable to the specific role.

  • What are the top 3 strengths and weaknesses to say in an interview?

  • There are no set strengths or weaknesses that’ll score you points in your interview. It’s up to you to figure out which ones will be most helpful to you, and set you apart from the crowd.

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