Many job seekers get stuck in this interview question. Yes, it can be hard to identify your own strengths and weaknesses, but if you focus on a few key points and provide relevant examples, you'll do just fine.
There are certain questions that recruiters love to ask their candidates, and two of the most popular ones are undoubtedly:
If you’ve never known quite how to answer them — keep reading as we go through ten strengths and ten weaknesses that will make you look like the ideal applicant during your interview!
If you’re in a job interview, it’s because the employer sees some potential in you, and this question is a great opportunity for you to convince them that they’re right.
Bragging too much or listing 1001 strengths in a row are two huge no-nos: you’ll just sound unrealistic and full of yourself. Let’s try to avoid that.
What you want to do instead is pick one or two strengths, and explain how you’ve been able to use them in the past in the workplace.
This will demonstrate that you understand and are able to exercise your strength, by pointing to a prior experience.
Remember to be specific and draft a statement beforehand that you can review.
Example: “I’m able to handle change. In my previous job, I worked with several different clients and had to be flexible enough to jump from one project to the other without jeopardizing my performance, which has taught me a lot about versatility.”
Alternative words: This also means that you are adaptable, versatile, and adjustable.
Example: “I’m extremely passionate about what I do and that shows in my work. When I’m involved in a project, I give my 110% and make the results we’re achieving for the client are as fruitful as possible. I use my dedication and eagerness to accomplish goals efficiently and effectively.”
Alternative words: This also means that you are passionate, effective, and loyal.
Example: “My biggest strength is my positive attitude. I know how stressful this industry can get, but I’m able to keep my calm and power through by focusing on the end goal - and I’ve been told in the past that this attitude has had a positive impact on my colleagues.”
Alternative words: This also means that you are upbeat, motivated, and forward-thinking.
Example: “I love being creative and developing solutions that are completely out-of-the-box. In my previous job, I had the opportunity to work on a tech project that was all about innovation and creativity, and we ended up receiving three industry awards for our results.”
Alternative words: This also means that you are a problem solver, innovative, and clever.
Example: “I’ve been a natural leader ever since I can remember and for the past 15 years, I’ve had the opportunity to use these skills in my career, managing a large digital marketing team. In my previous job, I was promoted to team leader after one year of working there and ended up working closely with the agency’s CEO.”
Alternative words: This also means that you are a captain, able to guide and lead.
Example: “I’ve never been one to give up, even on my personal life, and that personality trait has definitely transpired into my career. When I’m involved in a project, I like to feel like I actually contributed to it in a significant way and that’s what feeds my determination and focus.”
Alternative words: This also means that you are motivated, focused, and decisive.
Example: “My writing skills are very strong: I’ve been a copywriter and content creator for the past ten years and during this decade, I’ve had the chance to learn from some of the best in the industry. So much so, that my work has been published in Forbes, The Inc, Entrepreneur, and other major publications.”
Here's a list of skills for various professions and industries you can use:
Office and Administrative Job Skills
Sales, Retail, and Customer Service Job Skills
Nursing and Healthcare Job Skills
IT Job Skills
Advertising & Marketing Job Skills
General Management and Project Management Job Skills
Need more ideas for hard skills? View our list on adding resume skills to your resume.
Example: “After being in the labor market for six years, I know I can never perform to the full of my abilities when things are messy, whether it is my desk, my laptop, or my brain. Knowing this has allowed me to work on my organizational skills, and to develop working processes that help me ensure I never miss a deadline.”
Alternative words: This also means that you are efficient, process-oriented, and a systems thinker.
Example: “Relating to people and understanding their emotions and needs is something that has always come naturally to me, and that might even explain why I’ve started my career in customer service. In my previous job, I got a call from a customer who was not satisfied with our service, and I was able to defuse the situation, explain what had happened and how we could make it up to him.”
Alternative words: This also means that you are caring, thoughtful, and a listener.
Example: “I’ve been working in finance for two years now and one of the most important things for me has been continuous learning and improvement. I know I have so much in my career to look forward to and I want to be as prepared as possible, which is why I’ve been investing in relevant online courses for the past year. I’m happy to show you my certifications!”
Alternative words: This also means that you are curious, wise, and seek knowledge.
The secret to answering this question is to find a weakness that won’t damage your chances of being hired, but that proves to the recruiter that you’re self-aware. Even the CEO of the company has their weaknesses, so this question is nothing to be afraid of!
Tip: Remember not only to mention the weakness but also explain how you’re working on it. This will show that you take initiative for yourself and are invested in your continuous learning!
Example: “I’ve been told before that I can be quite impatient and I am aware of the fact that, when involved in a project, I can sometimes be a bit too eager to finish them. I’m working on that by learning how to prioritize my tasks and respect others’ priorities as well.”
Alternative words: This also means that you can be eager and unmindful.
Example: “During the past year, I’ve become too critical of myself, always focusing on what more I could have done, instead of what I achieved. I could tell that this was starting to have an impact on my well-being, so I decided to get help from a professional coach and I can confidently say that it has made a huge difference in my mindset.”
Alternative words: This also means that you can be too introspective.
Example: “I’ve been told by coworkers that I can sometimes be too blunt with my feedback. That doesn’t come from a place of malice, I’ve always been extremely straightforward, but I’ve realized that not everyone knows that. I decided to take a communication skills course and am now able to convey my feedback a lot better.”
Alternative words: This also means that you can be straightforward, and blunt.
Example: “Sometimes I have a hard time delegating tasks because I want to be in control of the entire project. I’ve learned over the years that this isn’t possible and by speaking with other professionals that had the same issue, I’ve been working on my delegation skills.”
Alternative words: This also means that you can be controlling, protective, and demanding.
Example: “I’m not always the most organized person and, although that hasn’t had a major impact on my work, I know having a cluttered desk isn’t ideal for me or for my surrounding coworkers. I’ve been striving to organize my desk at the end of each day, to make sure I come back to a clean, tidy workstation.”
Alternative words: This also means that you can be irrational and disjointed.
Example: “Public speaking makes me nervous and I know this is an area I can, and should, work on. Although it isn’t an essential skill for this particular position, I know it’s still important for me to speak up during meetings, which is why I’ve recently enrolled in a public speaking bootcamp.”
Alternative words: This also means that you can be often looked-over.
Example: “I’ve always been a shy person and that has led me to feel a little insecure about sharing my ideas, particularly in a group setting. I’m aware that this can prevent me from taking incredible opportunities, so I’ve started going to improv classes. This has helped me feel a lot more confident about speaking up.”
Alternative words: This also means that you can be restrained and quiet.
Example: “Sometimes I focus so much on a certain detail that I lose sight of the whole project and that has caused me and my team leader to stress out for no reason in the past. I’ve learned from those situations and nowadays make a concerted effort not to get lost in the details.”
Alternative words: This also means that you can be micro-managing.
Example: “Anyone who knows me knows how introverted/extroverted I am. This can be an advantage at times, but I’m aware it can also be a weakness. I’ve gotten feedback on this from previous coworkers and managers, and have been working to find a healthy balance between my personality and my job.”
Alternative words: This also means that you can be over-the-top (if extroverted) or below-the-radar (if introverted).
Example: “I’m still not familiar with the most recent programming language, which although isn’t essential at the moment, is something I want to work on, as I know it can benefit both of us in the future. I’ve been looking for online courses so I can start one as soon as possible.”
See the list we provided above to choose some specific skills you can talk about.
Getting caught off-guard with either of these questions during a job interview wouldn’t be easy, but nowadays there’s no excuse not to be prepared for them.
Now that you’re familiar with 20 strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to do some self-reflection and assess which ones apply to you. We’d also recommend taking an assessment like the Gallups Strengths Finder as it will help give you insight into your own strengths and weaknesses by answering a few questions.
All you need to do after is develop your full stories, one explaining how you’ve used a certain strength or the second one detailing how you’re working on a certain weakness, and there you have it: two fantastic, personalized, compelling answers to what seemed like impossible questions!
Did you just start looking for a job? Then you need to make sure your resume is as comprehensive and strong as possible.
By using Easy Resume, you get access to customizable resume templates that will get you the interview for your dream job. Try our resume builder for free!
Ed is a co-founder of Easy Resume. His background in scaling teams at tech startups over the last decade has given him extensive experience and knowledge around how to hire top talent and build successful teams. He enjoys mentoring, coaching, and helping others reach their career goals. When he's not writing about career-related advice, he's playing with his dog, Lilo, or going on long hikes in upstate New York.
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