If you’re looking for a list of example work strengths and weaknesses, then this article is for you.
I’m going to give you the best strengths and weaknesses for job interviews, and word-for-word example interview answers so you can see what a great response looks like.
Let’s get started…
If you’re asked about your top strengths in a job interview, you can share work-related skills, such as “project management,” as well as soft skills and personality traits like “communication skills” or “public speaking.”
If you’re asked for your single greatest strength, I recommend you make sure to name a skill that relates to the job description of the position you’re interviewing for.
And if you’re asked for a list of strengths, then make sure that the first strength you mention relates to the job.
Some employers will appreciate soft skills like “being a team player” but every employer appreciates hard skills that relate to their job. So the best way to impress the hiring manager when they ask an interview question about your strengths is to show that you’ll be able to step into this job and be successful.
Remember to start with job-related skills any time you’re asked interview questions about your greatest strengths.
Then, you can name soft skills from the list above, too. But start with something that shows the employer you can step into their job and hit the ground running.
Note that some of the above skills could be seen as hard or soft skills, depending on the job. For example, “leadership skills” is a good example answer if you’re interviewing for a manager role.
However, if you’re interviewing for an entry-level position and simply feel you have strong leadership through your academic experience, this isn’t considered a hard skill and doesn’t relate to the job you’re discussing.
It could still be a valuable strength to mention in your job interviews! But not as the first item you mention. For the first point you make, refer to the job description and choose one or more strengths that show how you’ll help this employer.
There’s one critical rule to follow when sharing weaknesses in an interview… and most websites won’t tell you this.
When you’re asked about your greatest weaknesses, you only want to name hard skills, not soft skills.
It sounds so much better to say, “I’m not great in Excel yet, though it’s something I’m working to improve on,” versus saying, “My communication skills are lacking” or “My weakness is being a team player.”
The first example answer above is a hard skill (Excel). The other two are soft skills and sound quite bad if you mention them as a weakness.
So always name a hard skill that you are either currently working to improve or open to improving, and always name a skill that isn’t critical for the job you’re applying for.
Why is this a “rule” when answering an interview question about weaknesses?
Employers may worry that you’ll never fix a personality trait or soft skill, whereas they know you can brush up on a work-related weakness such as Excel.
If you say you struggle when it comes to being detail oriented, they’re going to worry that this is going to impact EVERY area of your work. They’ll start wondering if you’ll make mistakes everywhere. And they’ll think you may not be able to improve on this.
This is why you share a work skill for your weaknesses.
All of these example answers above are skill-based. That’s the key.
Don’t ever name a personality trait, such as, “I struggle to be detail oriented” when you’re asked about strengths and weaknesses.
Sometimes, the interviewer will ask you to name three strengths and three weaknesses.
So let’s pull together everything we’ve looked at above in terms of job strengths and weaknesses and run through a couple of full example interview answers now.
My greatest strength is listening and understanding our clients’ needs, and then finding solutions to their concerns. This has helped me excel in both customer service and sales. I have some of my latest sales accomplishments listed on my resume and am happy to go into detail if you want. My other strengths are working as part of a team and working effectively with people of all personalities.
In terms of weaknesses, I’m working on getting better at delivering presentations to large groups. In my past sales experience, I’ve typically presented to one or two people at a company, but not larger teams. So this is something I’m practicing and learning in my professional life, but it isn’t yet a top strength.
Among my work-related skills, I’d say I’m strongest in client account management, general organizational skills, and my ability to never miss a deadline, despite managing the second highest number of accounts among all account managers in my company. In terms of weaknesses, I’m looking to improve on project leadership and my ability to run meetings, which are tasks that are newer to me, but are also areas I’m interested in developing into strengths.
My top strengths are my writing and editing skills, since I do both frequently in my work. I’m also strong in problem-solving. My previous managers have often given me tough problems that needed solving since they knew I could work through the challenge. My greatest weakness may be public speaking, since I haven’t been asked to do much of that in a formal setting. It’s among the skills I’m hoping to develop in my future work, though. I just haven’t had a chance or need to do so yet.
Pay attention to the phrasing of the greatest weakness in that last sample answer above (Example Answer 3). That’s exactly how to present your weaknesses in a job interview.
To recap, you’re naming specific skills, not personality traits, and you’re naming a skill that isn’t vital to the work you’ll be performing immediately in this next job.
Finally, you’re showing a positive attitude and interest or at least willingness to turn that weakness into a strength in the future.
This is demonstrated in the answer above in the final few sentences:
It’s among the skills I’m hoping to develop in my future work, though. I just haven’t had a chance or need to do so yet.
Also, you may have noticed that the example interview answers above don’t name three distinct weaknesses.
That’s okay. Sharing three weaknesses in a job interview is going to create a pretty long, complex answer and just bring more negatives to the interviewer’s attention.
So if the employer asks, “What are three strengths and three weaknesses?” it’s okay to share a list of three strengths and then just one or two weaknesses.
If the hiring manager wants more weaknesses, they can certainly ask for more.
One way to end your answer to a question about weaknesses is to discuss how you’re working on getting better in that area. You’ll see this in the sample answers above.
Consider this phrase from Example Answer 1 above:
In terms of weaknesses, I’m working on getting better at delivering presentations to large groups…
See how you’re naming a weakness but then immediately talking about how you’re working on turning it into a strength?
This shows ambition and confidence and makes it sound like it’s not even a weakness… more of an area that could use improvement and that you’ll soon be great at.
So when you’re asked a question about weaknesses, always look for a way to let the hiring manager know that you’re improving in that area.
After you answer a question in the interview, it’s a great idea to ask a question directed at the interviewer.
This will set you apart from other candidates, since most candidates ask very few questions overall, and save their questions for the end of the interview.
So after giving an answer to any question above, consider ending your response by asking:
“What do you feel are the team’s strengths and weaknesses right now?”
Also consider asking:
“What is something that you’re hoping a new person can bring to the team?”
Any time you can ask a thoughtful question like this, you’ll be more memorable and make yourself stand out from other job seekers.
And the answer you receive will help you know what the company wants so you can give better answers to future questions.
There are a couple of mistakes to avoid and rules to follow when naming strengths or weaknesses in job interviews.
You don’t need to share a list of 10 strengths and talk for four minutes when the interviewer asks about your greatest strengths.
In fact, it’s often more impressive to just share one or two top strengths, especially those that relate to the job you’re discussing.
If you try to sound like you’re great at everything, you’ll sound like you’re great at nothing. So pick and choose what they share.
This goes for weaknesses, too.
Pick one or two weaknesses that won’t scare the interviewer into thinking that you won’t be able to perform the work.
Name those, and then stop.
Be strategic in your answer. If the interviewer asks for your greatest weakness, you don’t need to share your absolute top weakness.
Instead, think about multiple weaknesses and hand-pick the one that won’t hurt you in this job.
Review the examples of weaknesses from earlier in the article for more ideas.
Or, prior to the job interview, list your top 10 weaknesses in your professional life and then go through that list to decide which one to share if you’re asked.
This exercise will help you avoid the one other big interview mistake when you’re asked about weaknesses:
You don’t want to have to decide which weakness to share at the last minute, with the interviewer staring you down.
So always take time to plan and practice before your interview: What strengths and weaknesses will you name in your answers, and what examples will you give to explain those choices?
Know what you’ll say if you’re asked for:
That brings me to my final mistake:
Before the interview even begins, and before you share your strengths and weaknesses, always review your resume and the job description to make the best decision for this particular job interview.
The job description tells you exactly what employers want, so you don’t need to guess.
You can look through their whole job posting and know what they’re looking for before your interview even starts.
Always consider this before you decide which words you’re going to use to describe yourself in the interview.
If you read the tips above, you know what to say (and not say) in an interview for greatest weaknesses and strengths.
It’s good to be aware of your strengths and it’s not bragging to share when asked. So be ready!
And some honest self-criticism and the ability to identify at least one weakness is also important in your interviews.
Fortunately, if you read the tips and example lists of strengths/weaknesses above, you’re ready to answer all types of questions about work strengths and weaknesses so you can land a better job.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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