Answering the ‘Strengths and Weaknesses’ Question

January 15, 2014 2 mins read
Answering the ‘Strengths and Weaknesses’ Question

This interview question mainly tests an applicant’s overall quality. It’s also a good indicator of whether or not an individual is self-confident, arrogant, or suffers from feelings of low self-worth.

First of all, don’t think of everything in terms of your strengths and weaknesses—these concepts have different definitions in different contexts. For example, you could say a person is candid and frank, which are strengths. Under different circumstances, however, you might say the person is flippant or frivolous because they seem to speak before thinking, act before gaining a full understanding, and generally contribute to overall instability. In another example, you could say a person is stingy, which is obviously a weakness. In other circumstances, however, you could also say that the person is thrifty and economical because they always seem to be thinking of practical ways to save company resources.

Secondly, strengths and weaknesses are a matter of perception and opinion —they are subjective, not unique. The foundation of this type of subjective is, in turn, actually objective; that is, strengths and weaknesses are set off by an individual’s personality, which itself is objective.  We shouldn't use strengths or weaknesses to describe personalities.

Thirdly, strengths and weaknesses are just two sides of the same coin. They are determined by the influence of the objective on the subjective, as well as the feedback of the subjective to the objective. If you want to understand a person, don’t just look at his strengths and weaknesses—instead, try and understand his personality. By finding commonalities, you can gain a true understanding of a person.

Fourthly, we should view ourselves through the same lens. We should try and understand our own personalities, emphasizing the positive aspects and doing our best to remedy the negatives.

Fifthly, to reply to this type of question, help the interviewer gain an understanding of your personality and its corresponding positive and negative aspects. You should also tell them how you utilize the positives and mitigate the negatives.

When talking about your strengths, pay attention to your expression, bearing and tone. Be low-key. You can also tell the interviewer how you hope to continue to improve even further. When talking about your weaknesses, don’t linger on the weaknesses themselves; instead, focus on how you go about overcoming them.

With this information under your belt, the next time you are faced with the ‘strengths and weaknesses’ question, you should be able to handle it with confidence and ease. 

Morgan McKinley