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Answering Interview Questions About Strengths & Weaknesses

written by: nataliajones•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 9/8/2010

You can't talk at length about your weaknesses and you don't want to sound over-confident by going on about your strengths, so what do you do when called to answer strengths and weaknesses for interview personnel? This article looks at this common dilemma in detail.

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    Answer Strengths and Weaknesses Interview An interview can feel like a high pressure situation especially if you really need or want the job you are being interviewed for, so there is hardly any room for mistakes. One topic that inevitably seems to be able to stump a large proportion of interviewees is when they are called upon to answer strengths and weaknesses for interview personnel. The following tips can help you to pass this segment with flying colors.

    Be Relevant to the Job

    Interviewers ask questions because they want you to convince them you are right for the job. Even when questions seem like they are general in nature, you can be sure that they are related to the vacancy in question. It helps to keep this in mind throughout the interview but especially when the discussion moves into the realm of strengths and weaknesses. You may have a long list of strengths and you may also have a number of weaknesses, but the interviewer is only interested in those that are applicable to the position you are being interviewed for, so try to be relevant when you answer their questions. If you are being interviewed for sales, tailor your answer around skills and traits that are associated with this field so the job of the interviewer is made a bit easier and you increase your chances of making the short list for the next round.

    Give Examples to Back Up Your Answers

    Another element of answering these types of interview questions properly is providing examples to back up your claims. For instance, if you state that you are an excellent communicator, then you should be able to talk about instances in your past where you excelled at these skills. Similarly, if you list a weakness, you can put this in context for the interviewer.

    Turn Your Weaknesses into Strengths

    This might sound a bit cryptic but it is not that difficult to implement. While the interviewer is bound to accept that nobody is perfect and they may not take kindly if you decide to say that you cannot think of a weakness that has the potential to affect your performance, they also prefer to hear that you acknowledge your weakness and you have an identified solution. If you tell the interviewer that you sometimes take longer to complete a project, you should qualify this set back by saying that this is because you make sure to focus on quality control and you are sometimes referred to as a perfectionist. You should never name a weakness and then just leave it hanging uncomfortably in the air. The purpose of asking this question is to make sure that you are able to monitor yourself to some degree.

    Practice Your Responses

    Finally, the opportunity to answer strengths and weaknesses for interview personnel almost always arises during the Q&A session. This is one of the most popular interview topics and yet it still manages to catch people off guard. To avoid the embarrassment of not having a response or one that is satisfactory be sure to practice these particular questions until you are comfortable answering them with finesse.

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