Tell me your strengths and weaknesses

What should you say, in a job interview, when asked to state your strength and weakness?

First, get your perspective right. You are there to sell yourself for the job. You are not there for confession or to be a clown.

Think about the perspective of the person interviewing you. They want to discover if you are the best person for this job. Every question they ask you is intended to help them decide. Therefore the perspective you take is to translate every question into “Why should we hire you for this job?”

Second, prepare. Do your homework before the interview. Look at each question and think about them. Then prepare a list of at least ten attributes for each question. Some things might even fit on both lists. If you can list more than ten, do it. This is the brain storming stage. Don’t judge yet.

Then ask five people who know and like you, “What do you see as my three key strengths?” and “What do you see as three weaknesses?” Remind them that only honest answers will help you. Some might need time to think about those questions, so give them the time. Don’t judge their replies and don’t defend. Thank them for their help. Tell them how this is helping you prepare for interviews.

Study the lists. If your friends are telling you things that you didn’t list it’s probably something you have overlooked.
For both questions pick the top three answers that are most relevant to the type of work or type of organization that you want. Remember your purpose.

For each write a short paragraph describing that attribute with an example. Then explain how that strength or weakness is a benefit for this job. Edit the paragraph to make it as short as possible and then rehearse saying it out loud.

When asked these questions in the interview, you could smile and start with, “I’m glad that you asked that question.” Pick the most relevant of your top three. Then deliver your prepared answer. Remember your purpose is to answer the real question which is, “Why should we hire you for this job?”


George Torok

Presentation Skills Training

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.

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