When it comes to job interviews, the classic question “What are your greatest strengths?” is an open invitation to highlight all the skills that make you a good fit for the job. However, there’s a good chance it’ll be followed by its companion, “Tell me about your weaknesses.”
It trips up many candidates. How do you tell an interviewer about the things you aren’t great at without making them think you’re not qualified for the job? It’s certainly tricky, but it can be done and used to your advantage.
Talk about a weakness you’ve transformed into a strength.
This is one of the best ways to approach the question, as it gives you the opportunity to show you can recognize your own weaknesses and take steps to rectify them. Try looking back at old performance reviews. Chances are there are notes from you and your manager about a skill you identified and improved upon.
Choose a skill that’s not essential to the position.
Review the job description—you know which skills are cited as essential; choose one that is not critical to the performance of the job. You can talk about how you’ve overcome this in previous roles without losing ground with the hiring manager.
Keep it real… but not too real.
No one is perfect, and hiring managers know this. If you respond to the question with “I have no weaknesses and always do a great job,” the interviewer will probably write you off as unable to understand and learn from your mistakes. That’s why it’s important to answer honestly. However, keep it work related. The hiring manager does not want to hear about weaknesses you’ve dealt with in your personal life.
So, why is this question important?
It’s not just an obstacle to avoid, it’s an opportunity to show the hiring manager you can learn from constructive criticism, that you’re willing to make changes when faced with challenges, and can pick yourself up when you fail. Any employer would count those things as strengths.