Answering the Greatest Strengths, Greatest Weakness Questions

John Krautzel
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Chances are good that you've heard two of the most common interview questions time and again during a job search. Employers ask questions that revolve around your strengths and weaknesses to see if you're self-aware enough to give an answer. Rather than say a rehearsed, preset response to these questions, discover how to stand out while remaining honest about your answers.

What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

The tried-and-true way to answer these types of interview questions is to say how you turned a weakness into a strength. The problem with this tactic is you talk about a weakness that no longer exists. You conquered that weakness, and it became a better part of you, which means it's not your greatest weakness any more.

Instead, show humility and open up about a true weakness in your professional life. Honesty goes a long way, and you can say why your weakness has not improved over the years. Weaknesses can be a skill or a personality trait, but make sure they're relevant to the job at hand. For example, you can say your greatest weakness is that you're an introvert in a field that values extroverts. Then show how you're currently overcoming that weakness, either by using calming techniques, forcing yourself to reach out to more people or learning how to network with your colleagues.

Interview questions let you tell your story. Overcoming a weakness is a valuable storytelling tool that demonstrates how you learned a lesson and how you continually develop and improve.

What Is Your Greatest Strength?

The way to answer these kinds of interview questions is to come across as confident instead of overbearing and cocky. Similarly, to your greatest weakness, your greatest strength should stay relevant to your professional life. Pick a skill and blend it with a personality trait that highlights how you deploy that skill.

Tell your story by saying what skill you have, and add details that demonstrate how you put that skill to good use and how it edifies your current role. For instance, you say communicating with others is your greatest strength. You constantly ask your colleagues for feedback, love chatting with customers and always listen to what people have to say. Leverage these traits by saying your communication skills foster camaraderie with a team and make customers feel comfortable doing business with your company.

Answering interview questions gives you an opportunity to be humble, even when talking about your greatest strength. Include other people in your story, such as a colleague, mentor or former supervisor. Perhaps your fantastic communication skills let you collaborate with another team to solve a complex problem that increased sales or customer satisfaction.

Interview questions regarding strengths and weaknesses offer you a chance to be open and honest about your personality. When your answers showcase genuine confidence and humility, you stand out from the other candidates because you don't come across as someone who brags or rehearses answers ahead of time.

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