An interview will always get you nervous, even if you spend days preparing for it.
But remember, the hiring organization short-listed you because they recognized your potential.
Now it’s your turn to convince them how right they were to choose you.
All you’ve got to do is answer their questions correctly.
And then comes this million-dollar question: “Could you please tell us your strengths and weaknesses?”
To help you, here are relevant and contextual strengths and weaknesses examples that may impress your interviewing panel.
“What Are Your Main Strengths” Examples
If you aren’t sure about your strengths, refer to any positive feedback you’ve received from your former managers and peers. Here are some examples you could mention:
1. People Skills
Relating well with other people is an attribute that helps to maintain a positive working environment. When faced with complex situations, you can quickly neutralize the atmosphere without leaving a rift between two parties.
“I’m empathetic, with interpersonal skills that help me relate well with people and make them feel heard. In one instance during my work, I spoke with a customer whose fruit delivery contract with our organization was terminated.
She was agitated because of the loss she’d be incurring due to the termination. But I talked to her about other options and even suggested some companies willing to buy her goods. Having accepted the loss, she even mentioned in our feedback survey that she would still recommend our company services to prospective customers.”
2. Team Player
Being part of the team leads to profitable business outcomes. This means projects will be handled efficiently and delivered on time.
“I’m good at working with people and collaborating on projects. I was the team head in my former employment and constantly kept in touch with other teammates, helping them through their tasks while asking for their ideas and opinions on projects.
Together, we’d work on tasks to ensure we meet the deadlines. This increased productivity by 20% over the years.”
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3. Quick Learner
Being a quick learner saves the company from spending more on hiring new skills. It also boosts employee retention and productivity.
“I’m always looking forward to learning new skills so I can grow and evolve into a more productive employee. When my previous employer decided to install a new accounting software to improve customer billing, I had to learn quickly, owing to time pressure. I also needed to orient my team, and everything turned out well.”
One’s adaptability to change makes onboarding and orientation an easy process for the company and management teams.
“I can adapt to any working environment easily. When my former employer changed the company from retailer to manufacturer, all employees were forced to adapt to changes in work schedules and responsibilities.
I became the customer service manager, a responsibility that was totally different from my original secretarial position. Now I had additional responsibilities. Within a year of taking up this position, the company improved its customer satisfaction.”
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Productivity is inevitable when employees can manage themselves and their time. The business gains more profit when things are done right and within the required timeframe.
“During working hours, I organize my tasks and priorities without supervision. I know what to do and how I can do it well. When I’m in charge of a team, I will assign tasks and guide them on how to tackle them.
By monitoring their progress and holding brainstorming meetings, we will ensure deadlines are met on time. And my supervisors will also receive reports on time.”
6. Strong Work Ethic
Strong work ethic ensures seamless workflow, meeting deadlines, and quality work. When an employee goes the extra mile, the company’s customer retention goes up.
“I always feel it’s my obligation to come to work on time, well prepared, and ready for the day ahead. As a team leader, I encountered a customer who gave a tight, strict deadline.
Then one of my team members, tasked with finalizing the documents, called in late. To avoid disappointing the customer, I volunteered to stay behind and finalize the work to ensure we meet the deadline without rushing things up.”
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7. Writing Skills
An employee with writing skills comes in handy when it comes to content marketing. Through content marketing, the business will boost leads, conversions, and sales.
“As part of the PR team, we were tasked with the responsibility of updating the company website with content three times a week. One day while busy handling a weekly event, a colleague forgot to publish a press release on the site.
Our editor didn’t realize this delay until just a few hours before the deadline. This was important, so I volunteered to write and publish the press release. With precision, I completed the article on time, and it produced excellent results for the company.”
8. Ability to Work Under Pressure
Being able to work under pressure improves the company’s performance and credibility. Customers prefer a brand that delivers.
“I pride myself on having the ability to work under tight deadlines. I have managed to handle multiple clients and deadlines in my previous position. With my team, I was able to delegate tasks for multiple projects with short notices. One day I worked on six projects that helped the company win $3 million worth of business from the clients.”
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Persistence is the first step towards great results. An employer will gain more from a persistent employee than one who gives up.
“I’m very tenacious and thorough when it comes to delivering on projects. One time as we were working on delivery, it turned out that some materials were missing at the last minute.
The supplier couldn’t meet the deadline, and the customer was threatening to pull out if we didn’t deliver on time. It was late, and everyone had given up. To prevent losing that customer, I contacted a different supplier and went personally to pick the goods and deliver them to the client. The company saved a lot of money on penalties, and the client stayed.”
10. Strong Communication Skills
Understanding the needs of people and addressing them is essential for customer retention.
“I believe that speaking to people helps to make things right. Having strong communication skills helps to solve challenges as they come. I remember working in a school when the accountant sent a student home for school fees by mistake.
The parent was furious and threatened to pull the child from the school. I had to apologize, cool him down, and solve the problem with the accounts department right there. In the end, the child went back to class, the parent went home happy and even apologized for venting his anger on me.”
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Flexibility refers to the ability and willingness to adapt to new conditions that give you an advantage in a competitive job interview. It’s a crucial quality, especially in today’s ever-changing working environment.
“In my last job, the firm’s structure and management were changing quickly. What I learned is that changing working environments doesn’t indicate job insecurity. Whenever I remembered this, I felt motivated and stuck to my work. I now feel like this is one of my greatest strengths.”
Organization as a quality entails having the ability to be efficient yet systematic in what you do.
“Having worked in the labor industry for seven years, I understand better the negative impacts that lack of organization has on a company. Knowing this has helped me develop my skills further and come up with working process-oriented methods that ensure I don’t miss deadlines.”
Can you influence people to carry out a task harmoniously and effectively in an organization?
Do you have the moral capacity to always stand for what is right regardless of popular opinion?
“I have always loved leadership roles ever since I was young. I remember when a company I worked for had a falling out with a major stakeholder, and many of my colleagues opted out due to financial constraints.
I was made in charge of the remaining colleagues, but there was an air of lethargy around the office. I stood up to the occasion and motivated my workmates to a small yet productive workforce that performed outstandingly well.”
A positive attitude is a mindset that allows you to visualize and anticipate positive outcomes.
Don’t get me wrong, you might have negative or challenging situations in your place of work, but positivity in attitude gets you to remain optimistic through the situations.
“I understand how stressful and challenging places of work can get. However, I can remain calm by focusing on the final goal and being optimistic. I was once commended for the positive impact this attitude had on my colleagues.”
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Creativity is the ability to use your imagination or ideas to come up with something original that may help solve problems or accomplish a given task.
“I like being innovative, clever, and part of problem-solving. During my last stint at work, I had the honor of working on a marketing project, which required lots of creativity and innovation. It was a huge success making us receive two industry accolades for the results it fetched.”
Active listening is an approach taken when listening to someone to improve mutual understanding.
In other words, you listen to understand and not to judge.
“Part of being humble is to allow others to be heard and understood. This brings togetherness and unity to a team. I believe I possess this trait, and by bringing it forth, everyone will feel involved in decision-making and foster the camaraderie of office life.”
Discipline means having the ability to follow a code of conduct or behavior and work in a habitual and controlled manner that entails obeying specific rules and maintaining the required standards.
“One of the skills that took me long to learn is discipline. This is because it involves many sacrifices. I am okay with strict management, and I thrive because of my discipline. I believe my seniors mean well for the company whenever they order someone around.”
Can you tolerate delays? Or provocations? Or any other sort of problem or annoyance?
Patience is a virtue that involves the willingness and ability to suppress restlessness when faced with misfortune or annoyance without complaining or losing your temper.
“I can keep my cool even under aggravating circumstances. I once worked with a slow colleague with whom most of the other colleagues lost patience. I learned that he was not annoying at all, and we formed a great partnership because we focused on his strengths rather than his weaknesses.”
Passion is an intense enthusiasm or desire for something.
Passion gives you non-stop focus, relentless energy, and the will to undertake any task without fear of possible obstacles.
“I first used a computer at the age of eight. I was fascinated by it and developed a passion for knowing more about computers ever since.
Coding and programming have been dear to my heart. When I was younger and less occupied, I participated in coding contests and won prize money in many of them. I improved the approach and consistency in my craft as a result.”
Diligence is the ability to work carefully and persistently with maximum effort and concentration.
Diligence involves anything else apart from laziness.
“I love what I do. Whenever a new project comes around, I am keen to understand what is expected. Once I know what is required, I show conscientiousness and diligence in completing it. I also believe this trait can be easily transferred among colleagues from the experience I have.”
When asked to mention a weakness, draw from examples relating to personality traits, habits, or skills. What you focus on depends on the job type you’re being interviewed for.
For example, a skill or habit is highly relevant to a technical position. But, for customer service or sales roles, the interviewer may be eager to hear about your personality traits.
When addressing your weaknesses, first state the weakness. Next, provide an additional context backed by a story or example of how the weakness has manifested in your professional life.
Here, we’ve provided weaknesses, what they mean, and a suitable example in italics.
Self-criticism means you are too reflective, and always evaluate yourself so much when performing a duty; that you find faults in it even when everyone feels you have done it perfectly.
“I tend to over criticize myself, and even in cases where I get a positive response about a project, I feel it could have been better if I had added a little more effort. Seeing a professional coach has helped me change my mindset, and I have started feeling satisfied after working on a project.”
Lack of confidence is being shy, which makes you uneasy and tense when airing views among your colleagues.
“As a quiet person, I feel shy while airing my views to a group of people or even my colleagues. I am aware that this can deny me opportunities that may come my way when my opinion is needed. To curb this, I have been attending classes that will help improve my confidence, and I believe with time, speaking up won’t be a problem.”
This is a weakness when you like your work so detailed to the extent that your time is compromised.
“I take too much time analyzing the tiny details of a project so I don’t leave out any point. It has caused me much straining in my past projects. From these past experiences, I have learned to only focus on the most relevant project details, and as a result, I’ve started being effective and even beating deadlines.
Disorganized behavior refers to an employee’s conduct that’s devoid of order, planning, and consistency. Often, it results in clutter and confusion.
Here is how you can express yourself:
“I have always had struggles with organizing my working desk, though it has not had a significant effect on what I do. I strive to arrange my desk every time, and it’s back to its disorganized state after a while. However, I have an option to arrange my desk every day for a tidy workspace.”
If you are the kind of person that finds it hard to express yourself (introvert) or express yourself too much (extrovert), this is a weakness you can feel free to talk about.
“Being an introverted/ extroverted person, I am aware that this comes as both an advantage and a weakness. The responses from previous employees and co-workers have made me work on my personality to make sure it does not affect my job.”
Do you feel nervous when you are required to address a group of people? Feel free to express this weakness to your interviewer.
“Whenever I am required to do public speaking, I feel brittle; at the back of my mind, I am aware that this is a crucial skill when it comes to certain roles in an organization. To improve my public speaking skills, I have enrolled in a public speaking class, and with time I will be able to address people in meetings.”
Even when you are highly skilled, you may suffer from impatience. This is where you want things to run at your pace, and any delays make you furious.
“From my previous experiences, I have come to learn that I can be impatient, especially when it comes to projects. I am always eager to see meetings come to an end, I may find it boring and try to be busy by talking too much during the meeting.”
When you want complete control over a project, you will always have a problem delegating tasks to your colleagues. Letting your interviewer know about this weakness is a good idea.
“Since I want total control over a project, I may find it hard to delegate tasks. In my previous role as a team head, I began learning the importance of allocating tasks to others, as it helps to complete the work faster and frees my time to focus on other things that matter in the organization.”
Some people aren’t always mindful when conveying information. They will do it without putting your feelings into consideration.
“I am a straightforward kind of person, and my former colleagues could find my feedback too blunt. My communication skills classes have made me understand ways to give feedback without offending anyone.”
We all have that skill that we are not yet familiar with. Express yourself and let the interviewer know you have a challenge.
“I am still not conversant with link building, but I’m familiar with other SEO strategies, such as keyword research, competition analysis, and on-page SEO. Although it is not necessary for now, it will help significantly in the future. I am working on it by taking an online course.”
Perfectionism is where you want to achieve faultless results in all that you do. It is worth mentioning as a weakness in an interview.
“When working on a project, I find myself focusing even on minor details to ensure that I deliver quality work. This always interfered with deadlines at my former company.
Today, I am working on balancing quality work and a perfect outcome without taking a lot of time polishing the finer details that I know for sure won’t make a difference, after all.
Putting things on hold is something that most people suffer from. You may find yourself taking breaks even when they are not necessary.
“I always found myself putting things on hold, thinking that I am only stressing myself without interfering with others. At my former company, I found myself overwhelmed by tasks, and everyone could tell I was straining. These days, I try to create schedules for my daily tasks and make sure that I complete all the tasks to avoid inconveniencing my team.”
Do you feel you have comprehended everything in a meeting or task instructions, only to realize you needed some clarifications later on?
“I used to believe that if I read or listened to instructions, I could do the task independently without asking questions. However, this doesn’t happen in most cases.
I have realized that I need others to deliver quality work. For instance, I was given a project at my previous company; I worked on it without asking questions just to be told it was off-topic. I now realize what impact questions make in a project.”
Do you sometimes find yourself unable to say no, especially when asked to do something you aren’t very familiar with? That’s a weakness you need to address.
“When someone approaches me with a request, I find it hard saying no, and at the end, I realize that I have more than I can handle. Getting a project management app has helped me organize my projects in such a way that I know when to accept another task without overworking myself.”
When working on a project, you may find yourself wanting to make changes even when it’s past the deadline. This indicates you are not ready to let go of the project.
“After working on a specific task, I find it difficult to allow someone else to go through my project and criticize it. I always want to be the one doing this and identify my mistakes. Sometimes I am unable to beat deadlines. In order to avoid the last-minute changes, I always set deadlines for revisions.”
Everyone has that category of people they might feel uncomfortable working with; let the interviewer politely know this.
“In my past experiences, there were certain personalities that I had problems working with, especially the aggressive and louder ones. Being exposed to various personalities has made me know their importance in the growth of a company. I have adjusted to accommodate everyone to achieve a common goal.”
When you are within the same age bracket or job level as your colleagues, you may find it difficult to critique them as they may think you are trying to act “superior”.
“I find it hard to critique a co-worker or a person that reports to me. I don’t like to hurt their feelings. But over time, I have learned to give thoughtful responses to people reporting to me and in a friendlier way. This way, they recognize that the correction was constructive and put more effort in their work.”
We all have job descriptions, but often, you may find yourself taking a lot of time attending to tasks that fall outside your position. While it sounds good, it may stop you from delivering on what you’re truly mandated to.
“While working as a sales representative at my previous company, I was empathetic. I would find myself giving an ear to customers and trying to put myself in their situation.
In the process, I found myself missing targets and not attending to all the customers. Empathy could interfere with my time and my job schedule. I have learned to accord equal time to each customer and try to address their questions quickly.”
Are you the kind of person who gets focused on your work until you forget you need a social life? Then this is a weakness to recognize.
“I have found myself caught up in between my busy schedules in the quest for achieving my career goals. I tend to forget even my personal life. I remember one time I was working on a certain project, and I forgot I was supposed to eat. I set reminders on my phone to make sure I don’t miss out on important social events and meals.”
Multi-tasking is a weakness most employers love to hear. This is how you can subtly put it:
“I used to get excited about new projects and could accept several at once, but I’ve begun to learn when I’ve reached the limit. In my previous role as a web designer, I could take on five projects at once because I work quickly.
However, I realized each project comes with tight deadlines and I was getting burned out. So, I’ve learned to take on just a few at a time and say no until I’m through with those. As a result, I’m more creative and efficient.”
By asking about your strengths and weaknesses, the employer is assessing your potential core competencies. This will help them select, harmonize, and develop your talent for the company’s benefit.
While you should be specific, don’t forget to sprinkle in your personal traits, soft skills, and knowledge-based skills.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.