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In an interview, no matter what position you have applied for, the hiring manager will definitely throw a question that demands a candidate to talk about his strong and weak points. While some recruiters might straightforwardly put this question, others might twist and frame it in confusing phrases or make you imagine a hypothetical situation. Although preparing answers in advance can help you answer this tricky question well, merely parroting them won't earn you the brownie points or tell the interviewer who you really are.
The strength-weakness pair question is an opportunity to convey why you are an apt candidate for the position. While answering questions that point out flaws in the middle of an interview might seem awkward, this is a common practice followed by the hiring managers to understand what qualities a candidate possesses that will aid him/her to succeed in the job and judge whether the person is capable of overcoming obstacles.
How to answer 'What is your greatest weakness?'
Every person has some imperfections that usually one dreads to admit, especially in an interview when the ultimate aim is to cast an impression on the hiring manager. Even though the recruiter is not expecting a hundred percent honest answer, this section of an interview is intentionally designed to take the flow of conversation to judge whether the candidate has adequate information about self. The interviewer is more interested in understanding how you communicate when asked about shortcomings and knowing your approach.
Many candidates struggle while answering the weakness question. This happens, because they are unaware about how to tackle such a question or might go on telling their innermost traits without even realizing it. On the other hand, freezing up or asserting you cannot think of a single weak point, just to avoid putting yourself in a negative light, can make the interviewer think you are concealing something. Another fault is being too candid and confessing profusely, which can demonstrate your inability to excel at a role.
So how does one talk about negative traits without being too critical about self? You must focus on listing your professional shortcomings instead of personal traits. Saying things like 'you are not that fond of traveling' when you have applied for a 'sales executive profile' will not help in nailing an interview. Instead, pick a quality that needs improvement. You can even elaborate by telling why you think it's a weakness, how it affects work and what steps you are taking o overcome the same.
How to answer 'Tell me about your strengths?'
When it comes to answering this question, you definitely want to market yourself in the best possible way. However, if you are a modest individual who knows nothing about self-bragging or has no idea about his/her own positive traits, it's time you put this aside, at least for the job interviews. With this question, the interviewer is actually trying to discover several things, like judging your candidacy, determining whether you understand the role and have relevant competencies, and assessing confidence.
To avoid going completely blank, you must give this question due importance while preparing for an interview. You might be tempted to make a note of all strengths, but it is necessary to know to what limit you should toot your horn. Jot down your best attributes by listing the various skills in different categories like personality characteristics, transferable skills and knowledgeable skills. Even if you are aiming to show off, mention only those skills that are relevant to the position. For instance, if you have applied for a management role, stating that you managed a class of 50 toddlers back in school would seem too immature and irrelevant.
For answering such a question, pick out the strongest qualities and support it by giving some concrete proof or evidence. It could be some sort of awards or recognition that you got in the previous company. Explain why you think it is relevant to the profile and makes you the perfect candidate. Also, choose your words wisely and be prepared to answer any follow-up questions, as the interviewer might cross-examine you to know how firm you are on what has been said. Always remember, the hiring manager is searching a potential employee who would be a perfect fit, and he/she will form a particular image with the given answers.
Inadequate preparations for this can cause one to blurt out the first thing that comes to the mind in an interview. These questions are usually asked in a row to see if the candidate is at par for answering the same or stumbles at it. Given a choice between the two, you must emphasize starting with weak qualities along with what you are doing to improve them and then end the answer positively by highlighting your strengths.