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Answering Strengths & Weaknesses Questions in an Interview

Assessing Your Strengths and Weaknesses

When preparing for an interview, it's important to make sure you know how to talk about yourself.

Besides the request, "Tell me about yourself," the next most common topic covered in an interview is some variation of, "Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses." The interviewer might bring this up by asking a variety of questions, including:


  • What separates you from other employees?
  • Name a time when you used your skills to successfully handle a conflict in the workplace.
  • What was your greatest accomplishment at your last job?
  • What is your strongest soft skill?
  • Tell me about the successes you’ve had in the past.


  • What was your greatest difficulty at your last job?
  • What steps are you taking to grow as an employee?
  • Tell me about a time you made a commitment and did not deliver on it. How did you handle it?
  • What is one thing you want to learn, either in this role or outside of work?
  • What is one trait your past supervisors would say you need to work on?

The questions may sound different, but the purpose is the same.  The interviewer wants to know more about you as a professional and how you use your skills to deal with problems in the workplace.  There is a right way and wrong way to answer these questions, and the way you answer will have an impact on your overall success.                                 

Talking About Your Strengths

All too often, there is confusion about the correct way to talk about your strengths.  When talking about your strengths, here are a list of things that you should and should not do:


Be Honest

Speaking honestly about your strengths will go a long way in gaining your interviewer's trust. 

Be Articulate

Interviewers will look for candidates who know what their strengths are and know how these strengths can help their team succeed.  An unprepared candidate will often provide a long-winded response. It's important to make sure your answers are relevant and concise.

Have Specific Examples in Mind

When speaking about your strengths, take the time to figure out a past situation where you utilized your strength in the workplace.  Choose an example that showcases your positive attributes while still being short and to the point. Don't ramble about your past experiences; have a specific example planned out.


Be Too Humble

Sometimes candidates are hesitant to talk about their strengths because they aren't comfortable with selling themselves or because they don't want to come off as bragging.  However, it's vital that you are able to speak about yourself in an articulate and positive manner.

Be Too Arrogant

Being too arrogant can be off-putting, and interviewers will see it as a red flag. It can often give the impression that a candidate is not a team player and takes credit for the team's effort.

Not Standing Out

When candidates show up to an interview unprepared, they will often revert to answers they come up with on the spot.  If you want to make a good impression during your interview, it's important that you take the time to think about what your strengths really are and how they set you apart from other potential candidates. If you are using a strength that anybody can use, you aren't going to stand out in an interview.

Find out exactly how to discuss your strengths and weaknesses by signing up for the premium version of this training program.

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

- Albert Einstein

How to Assess Your Strengths

It can be difficult to figure out what your strengths are.  Luckily, everybody has something they're good at!  Follow these steps to identify your strengths:

Step 1: Brainstorm

If you're having difficulty identifying your strengths, brainstorming is a great exercise to get started.  Think about tasks, projects, and activities that you enjoy.  We usually enjoy doing things we're good at. 

Note whether it's applicable to the job you're applying for.  Out of these tasks, projects, or activities, make a list of potential strengths - aim for between 7-10.

It's okay if the strengths don't seem particularly great to you.  What's more important is that you get your creative juices flowing.  Seeing things physically on paper can often help you think of things you might normally miss.

Step 2: Think About Your Past Experiences

Looking back at past successes can give you clues as to what your strengths are.  You might not think you're a good speaker, but if you got a lot of compliments when you gave a presentation at the last staff meeting, you may have a strength you didn't even know about!

If you're having difficulty coming up with something, take a look at your last performance evaluation!  Was there ever a time a customer left you a positive review?  Does your supervisor always make note of how organized you are?  Looking through official records about your work history can help you learn a lot about your strengths. 

Now write down 4 or 5 of your best past successes.  Once you have them, start analyzing!  Do they have anything in common with each other?  If all 5 of your past successes focus on how much of a people person you are, that is likely a great strength for you to present during an interview.

Step 3: Ask For Feedback

Sometimes it can be difficult to identify your own strengths, especially if you don't have any official records to fall back on.  That's when it helps to look within your network!

Supervisors, co-workers, and even friends can give you great feedback about what you're good at!  Don't worry too much about only getting feedback from within your professional network.  Talking to your personal friends or family can give you insight on strengths that your co-workers might never see in the workplace.

Asking for honest feedback about your strengths can help you gain a new perspective on what you're good at.  It also has the added benefit of giving your self-confidence a boost!

When assessing your strengths, don't be afraid to get creative!  Sometimes your strongest asset is the one you would never expect. 

Remember - Nobody's Perfect

Now that you know how to assess your strengths let's take a look at something else that's just as important — identifying your weaknesses. 

Talking About Your Weaknesses

When talking about your weaknesses, here are a list of things that you should and should not do:


Be Honest

You'll notice a theme here —honesty is a big deal in interviews! This is especially true when talking about your weaknesses. 

Choose a Weakness That Doesn't Effect Your Job

When speaking about your weaknesses, it's a good idea to choose a weakness that won't be a huge handicap for the position you're applying for. 

Show That Your Weakness is Fixable

Once you've decided on a weakness, determine ways to show that you are actively working to overcome it. 



Lying about your weaknesses is one of the worst mistakes you can make in an interview. 

Attempt to Disguise a Strength as a Weakness

Some candidates will try to pass off a strength as a weakness.

Choose the Wrong Weakness

While it's important to be honest about your weaknesses, you don't want to choose a weakness that will raise a red flag for the interviewer. 

How to Assess Your Weaknesses

Now that you know how to talk about your weaknesses, let's work on how to assess them. 

Step 1: Identify Stressors

Think about your most stressful times at work. Was it that time your supervisor asked you to present to your executive team?  Or that time you took on too many projects at once and were struggling to stay organized?

Write down as many of these past situations you can think of.  We often get stressed when we are not suitably equipped to handle a situation.  Looking at these past stressors can provide a goldmine of information. 

Step 2: Analyze for Weaknesses

For each of these past situations, ask yourself why you were stressed.  For instance, were you stressed because you dreaded pitching to new clients?  Then you may have a problem with public speaking. 

Look at all the reasons you have listed.  Do the same reasons appear more than once?  If so, it is probably a legitimate weakness you struggle with. 

Now take the weaknesses you've identified and look back at the Dos and Don'ts section of Identifying  Your Weaknesses.  Make sure the weakness you choose matches all the criteria listed. 

Step 3: Ask for Feedback

Sometimes, candidates have trouble recognizing their own weaknesses.  When you only see things from your perspective, it can be difficult to recognize your own shortcomings. 

Luckily, people within your network are often very receptive toward providing constructive criticism.  Make sure to convey that you will be open-minded and appreciative of any feedback they can give you.  You'll be surprised at the amount of helpful criticism you'll get!

Like what you are seeing? Learn more about answering questions on your strengths and weaknesses by signing up for the premium version of our training program.

How Your Strengths/ Weaknesses Are Transitional

What many people don't realize is that their strengths and weaknesses are transitional from different positions and even different industries.  It is easy to think that because you only have experience in one industry, that it will not carry over to another.  When identifying these transitional skills, there are several things to keep in mind.

Get Creative

Identify strengths that are unique to you, then try to develop ways they apply to the position you want. 

Emphasize Soft Skills

While hard technical skills may not be transitional, soft skills definitely are. 

Use Weaknesses to Your Advantage

Identify new or creative methods you can bring to this job. 

Bring Evidence

When telling an interviewer about what you bring to the table during a career change, use cold, hard evidence to back it up.  Bringing statistics showing how you increased employee retention or boosted sales can go a long way toward getting you the job. 

When it comes to strengths and weaknesses, candidates often have more going for them than they realize. It’s just a matter of identifying the right traits and then articulating them in a positive manner!

What's Next?

This is just a preview of the actual Strengths & Weaknesses Guide. We've outlined some necessary information here but go into much more detail in the real thing.  Here is the information we cover in more detail:

  • Identifying your strengths for any interview, even if you are switching careers.
  • Learning to assess weaknesses in a productive way and talking about them honestly without ruining your chances at getting the job.
  • Talking about your strengths without coming off as boastful as well as accurately assessing your strengths and presenting them in a positive manner.

Getting access to the tools and information you need to interview successfully and get the job you want is as easy as becoming a member of