Interview FAQ: Deal with questions based on strengths and weaknesses

Strengths and weakness based questions are extremely common part of interviews. Why does the evaluator ask you this question? 
  • To find out how well you understand yourself.
  • To find out how your strengths are related to your past experiences and to future expectations.
  • Every person has some weak points. The evaluators would like to know whether you understand what your weaknesses are and how you plan to remove these weaknesses.
Now that we have covered why is this question type asked, let’s explore the most stated strengths and weaknesses.
  • "Most Stated" Strengths: 
Attribute Operational Definition
Hard work Long hours, emotional attachment, physical energy, self discipline
Analytical Strength Clarity of thought, ability to see relationships among diverse concepts.
Initiative Ability to be a 'self starter'
Attention to Detail Thoroughness, orderliness, self-starter
Leadership Vision, communication by example, consistency between action, thoughts and deeds.
Persuasiveness Logical, oral and written communication skills, negotiation skills
Entrepreneurship Ability to seek opportunities and enlist support of low-cost resources, creativity and business acumen
Value for 'Values' Desire for qualitative upgradations, missionary zeal
Influencing without Positional Power Political acumen, social sensitivity
Perseverance Self-confidence(not dogmatism), managing disappointments, innovation
Team skills Ability to manage and work in group and with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Sensitivity to the needs of group members.
Good Communication Skills
Ability to put points across in a manner that others understand, fluency is important
From the table above, you can use the operational definitions for your mentioned strengths.
  • "Most Stated" Weaknesses:
The weaknesses that you state should have a positive connotation and a remedial plan.
Attribute Negative Connotation Positive Connotation
Over-Confident Do not understand limits of my capability Believe in what I do
Set Very High goals Do not understand limits of my capability Ambitious
Stubborn in implementation of rules, regulation, values etc Do not consider ground realities, difficulty in dealing with bureaucracy and real-life problems Have good value system
Procrastination - put off things to a later period Fall behind time schedules etc. Take time to analyze problems, consult with others before taking decisions
Slow Starter Take too much time to decide on ideas and plans Take time to analyze problems, consult with others before taking decisions - so that in the long run better implementation
  • Weaknesses (additional points):
    State those weaknesses that do not really effect your capability as a manager. 'Bad handwriting' is something you can consciously work on, but it is not a fatal error if you fail to correct it. On the contrary, you do not want to state 'poor memory' or 'no awareness of computers' as weaknesses in an interview session. 
Simply stating those weaknesses that are necessarily strengths can be a problem at times. The interview may turn around and say 'I asked you for your weakness, and you are telling me about your strengths'. In this case, it is critical to have examples or instances where your weakness has let you down, or held you back in some way.
  • How do you decide on your strengths and weaknesses? 
    Consider the following points when you decide on what strengths and weaknesses you have:
    • Past Experience: You should be able to justify your strengths and weaknesses by stating past experiences usually ask you instance and examples. Examiners usually ask you instance where you demonstrated a particular strength or where a weakness landed you in problem.
    • Future Expectations: You should be able to justify how your strengths and weaknesses are going to help in achieving your future expectations. For example, if you are opting for a role in finance, good analytical skills would be an advantage. If you are opting for a career in HR, team skills and values become important. For a person interested in marketing, 'getting along well with people', 'persuasive skills' etc. becomes important.
    • Interviewers would ask you questions on how your strengths and weaknesses can help in achieving your future expectations.
  • How convincing you are in what you say:
    You may be asked questions on your areas of strengths - for example, if you say that good analytical skills is a strength, expect some puzzles to be asked. In case you say that 'good communication skills' is your strength, then you should demonstrate it through the way in which you speak.
  • What other questions could be asked related to your Strengths and Weaknesses?
    • How will your strengths and weaknesses help you in your course/job?
    • Could you tell us some instances to demonstrate your strengths and weaknesses?
    • What have you planned to overcome your weaknesses?
  • Some questions where you could state your strengths and weaknesses:
    • Tell us about yourself.
    • What are your ambitions in life?
    • Why do you want to join our company?
    • What are your hobbies? How have your hobbies helped you?
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If you have any question, suggestion or feedback, feel free to post it in the discussion box given below.
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