5 tips for stating PI strengths/weaknesses

One of the most commonly asked questions is based on your strengths and weaknesses. In this article we shall understand the rationale behind the panel asking a question on strengths and weaknesses, and also appreciate the strategies to respond to this question.
Why does the evaluator ask this Question?
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  • To find out how well you understand yourself. The panel wants to assess you on your clarity of thought and there can be no better way to do so than checking whether you understand your strengths and weaknesses or not!
  • To find out how your strengths are related to your past experiences and to future expectations. This demonstrates an ability to apply strengths in real life situations.
  • 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.
How to decide on your strengths/weaknesses?
  • Past Experience
    • You should be able to justify your strengths and weaknesses by stating past experiences with examples. The width and depth of examples will define the sanctity of what you say.
    • Examiners usually ask you instance where you demonstrated a particular strength or where a weakness landed you in problem.
  • Future Expectation
    • 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. become important.
  • Interviewers would ask you questions on how your strengths and weaknesses can help in achieving your future expectations. For example, if you are someone with high levels of initiative, then you can project it as a trait which will facilitate your leadership roles in professional set ups.
Examples of Strengths
  • Willingness to learn – which is critical for any learning program.
  • Strong application orientation- which measures your ability to apply theory into practice and becomes imperative for a management program.
  • High levels of initiative- which mark your ability to take first steps in the right direction.
  • Temperament suitable for team work- which benchmarks your ability to collaborate with team members.
  • Capacity for hard work- which is a basic requirement for contributing to a cause.
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Examples of Weaknesses
  • Impulsive- someone high on energy runs the danger of being restless and impulsive, at which point it starts affecting performance adversely.
  • Over meticulous- while having an eye for detail is a positive trait, it starts operating as a hurdle when you get too fastidious about things.
  • Set very high goals- which assumes the proportions of being unrealistically ambitious.
  • Too curious- which is a disturbing trait as it leads to redundant intervention.
Avoid the following
  • Do not state a strength merely because of its political correctness.
  • Do not over commit under situational pressure.
  • Do not state a weakness of character, like lack of integrity or fairness.
  • Do not keep on unfolding with every goad the panel exercises to evoke a reaction from you. For example stating too many weaknesses  as the panel continuously pushes you into a situation where it keeps triggering you, may not go well!
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