WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS?
STRENGTHS. From your analysis of the job advert, you can work out the key skills and characteristics that the employer is looking for. Paraphrasing a few of these back to the employer is an effective way to answer this question.
When paraphrasing key skills and characteristics, make sure to change the wording slightly – simply repeating them verbatim will make you sound like a mindless parrot.
A couple of examples:
- As an office manager with Global Gadgets, I have excellent organisation skills and really good attention to detail – I’m not the sort of person who does things by halves. I also believe that I have good communication skills in dealing with not only external customers but also all members of the internal team – from the senior managers to the junior researchers.
- I’ve been told that I’m a very good manager. My team tells me that I give them a lot of freedom in how to do their work, which they really appreciate. They also say that I’m really enthusiastic, so when we’re faced with too much work, they tell me that my manner really helps to keep them motivated and calm. My boss also tells me that I’m very innovative in terms of finding new ways of working that cut out inefficiency.
- Have an example up your sleeve to justify each of your alleged strengths. An interviewer can easily ask you, Why do you believe those are your strengths?
- Try to sound confident without sounding over-confident or arrogant. If you’re worried about sounding over-confident, use phrases such as I’ve been told that I am . . . and I believe that I am . . . rather than just saying I am. . .
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU
What are your weaknesses?
If the interviewer asks about your strengths, they will almost certainly ask about your weaknesses too. Being unable to describe any weaknesses suggests to the interviewer that you lack self-awareness or are a bit egotistical – are you really saying that you are completely perfect at everything that you do?
- Pick a couple of minor weaknesses that are of little relevance to the job. For example, if the job involves a lot of contact with customers and colleagues, then you can say that you get bored when you have to spend a lot of time working on your own. Or if the job offers you a lot of independence and flexibility, you may argue that one of your weaknesses is that you get very frustrated when you are micro-managed.
- When discussing your weaknesses, always talk about how you compensate for them, too. Describe the actions or steps that you take to ensure that your weaknesses don’t affect your performance at work.
Consider this example of weakness and how a candidate compensates for it:
My natural tendency is to make up my mind very quickly and in the past, this has got me into trouble. But I have come to realize that speed is not always appropriate so I always remind myself that I may need to collect more information and weigh up the pros and cons. Nowadays, if I am at all uncertain about a decision, I will seek input from colleagues.
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