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How to identify your strengths and weaknesses

Written by Kimberley Startup | February 6, 2012 | 3 Comments

iStock_000008697089XSmallWhether you’re interviewing for a director position of a top bank or a delivery driver for your local takeaway, the question ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’ will always crop up.

It’s a simple question, but requires a complex answer. Interviewers are typically looking for applicants who have strengths that will benefit their company.

Similarly, certain attributes or traits may be considered weaknesses by a potential employer. Overall, what they’re really asking is ‘How will you bring value to this organisation, and show me how you’ve learnt from your mistakes’.

But how many people are actually aware of their personal strengths and weaknesses? Do you know how to identify your strengths so that you can use and develop them? Can you tell a story about making a mistake without losing your credibility? And how do you manage your weaknesses when focussing on your strengths?

Here are some tips to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses for a job interview:

How to identify your strengths

First and foremost, when identifying your strengths and weaknesses, be honest with yourself. Boasting about strengths you can’t actually demonstrate will not win over any potential employers.

Look over the job description and make a list of the personal strengths that will probably be required for this job. If the role is looking after customers, they’ll be looking for someone who is personable, patient and empathetic. If it’s sales, then the right candidate will be someone who’s tenacious, driven and persuasive.

For each of the personal strengths necessary for the position, think of an anecdote that illustrates your strength in this regard. For example, you may have noticed a typo in a client newsletter and from then on were responsible for proofreading.

Sometimes it’s hard for people to do an accurate self assessment. If you’re struggling, why not take a personality test? There are numerous personality and career aptitude tests  online that will help you research the honest truth about your interests and abilities.

How to identify your weaknesses

Nothing is more suspicious than a flawless candidate. Show that you’ve already learnt a few important lessons and you’ll instantly sound more experienced, hardworking, and above all else – human. Hiring managers look for candidates who have demonstrated an ability to learn and recover from mistakes.

All applicants have some weaknesses, but a successful job hunter will usually adapt them to something that the interviewer regards more favourably. Demonstrate your weaknesses as something that is a problem which you have solved. For example, you might be a bit of an organisational freak, but you have learnt that by delegating tasks, you can ensure all work is completed on time.

When composing your answer, be aware of giving too much information and make sure you keep it work-related. Prospective employers are not interested about how you learnt the hard way not to date your co-workers or what life taught you when your grandmother passed away. Be sure that lessons learned are relevant to the position you’re interviewing for.

During an interview, it is imperative to make a good impression, and there is no better opportunity than when you have a direct invitation to identify your strengths and weaknesses.  By preparing your interview answers in advance, you’ll have a much easier time responding when employers ask the inevitable question.

3 thoughts on “How to identify your strengths and weaknesses

  1. Steve Nicholls on Reply

    Hi Jyoti. There a $5 Myers Briggs Test which can help. It takes 10-20 minutes to complete, and seems to be generally well received. Contact me for more info if you’re interested, but either way, this time investment is in yourself, and I would advise you to see it as a worthy investment of your time. After all, this is your future…
    Good Luck!

  2. leonamatson on Reply

    Hi Jyoti. Yes, i agree, that does seem like a lot of questions. However therer are plenty of other personality / career aptitude tests on the internet. A quick google search should bring up lots of results, and hopefully one of them might be more suited to you. Goodluck and let me know how you get on.

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