Strengths and weaknesses – this topic comes up in every job interview. HR managers want to get a better impression of you as a person and find out whether you fit into the team or not. Answering these questions is often more difficult than expected. Find out how to identify your strengths and weaknesses!
Why is strength being asked at all?
Every HR manager wants to find out something about your strengths sooner or later. These give him information about three essential points: On the one hand, he wants to know whether you have a good self-assessment. Your answer will also tell him whether you have thought about the advertised position in advance. And finally, it shows whether you can make a connection between your strengths and the position requirements.
What are your strengths?
Many people are overwhelmed by the question of their strengths. At least if you have never thought about the answer before. How do you best analyze yourself and get an insight into your skills? Here are four options:
- Friends and family: These are people who have known you well and long enough to be realistic. From the series of qualities given to you, you choose the ones that go well with your dream job.
- Previous activities: If you have completed various internships or other jobs in the past, you should look at the certificates issued. Which skills were particularly highlighted and praised? Hobbies and talents that only come to the fore in private can provide information about your abilities. Also, consider which subjects at the school or in which courses at the university you were particularly successful.
- Lists and scales: Make a list of the most popular soft skills (e.g., problem-solving skills, empathy, creativity, or analytical skills) and then assess yourself realistically on a scale from 1 to 10.
- Personality tests: There are a variety of tests online that you can use to analyze your strengths. The different questions should determine your competencies and your personality. Such tests are acceptable as a guide, but you should still question them.
What are their strengths?
In principle, a distinction is made between hard and soft skills. Hard skills are the specialist competencies that you have acquired in the course of training and further education and the exercise of your professional activities. In the meantime, pronounced soft skills such as intercultural competence, empathy, adaptability, or flexibility are just as, if not even more important than complex skills.
In any case, you should be careful with the formulation because supposed strengths can also be interpreted as weaknesses by HR staff. If you describe yourself as very friendly, you may be concerned that you are a gossip. Showing perfectionism as a shortcoming can make you seem arrogant and conceited. And a willingness to learn can indicate that you have more significant gaps in knowledge and are also aware of them.
Formulating strengths: Do’s
- Specific answers: Describe your strengths using particular examples.
- Self-confidence: Present your strengths convincingly and authentically.
- Adapt to job profile: Select the strengths that are relevant for the respective position.
- Honesty: Be honest with yourself, and don’t label yourself with strengths that you don’t have!
Formulating strengths: Don’ts
- Don’t Sell Below Your Value: Don’t compulsively try to appear humble. Stand by your strengths!
- There are no standard answers: Do not use empty phrases that you picked up somewhere just because they sound good.
- Don’t turn weaknesses into strengths: Don’t try to turn your weaknesses into strengths. They are a chapter of their own!
- Quality over quantity: Stay away from an endless list of strengths and concentrate on the most suitable!
In a roundabout way to the question of your weaknesses
It is noticeable that HR managers are less offensive when asked about weaknesses but instead choose the route through the back door. One reason for this is that applicants are preparing for the interview more and more meticulously. In the days before that, they scoured the Internet searching for advice that would tell them which weaknesses recruiters want to hear. The questions are therefore becoming increasingly indirect and take, for example, these forms:
- Which of your characteristics would you like to change?
- What behavior do you dislike when working with your colleagues?
- How would your friends describe you?
So-called questions of scale are also often used. One possible question could be: “On a scale from one to ten, how well do you rate your ability to work in a team?” It would help if you neither exaggerated nor understate here. Anything under six should be classified as bad, and a ten appears arrogant. At the same time, you should justify your answer and support it with an example.
If you know your weaknesses, they can do little to harm you. Nevertheless, many applicants still do not deal enough with this topic and get stuck in the interview. Some try it unabashedly and think that they are free from any defects and leave an arrogant impression. This isn’t very pleasant and doesn’t have to be! Take a quiet minute to sit down and think about your traits you would rate as weaknesses. Be a little more critical about this. Then you sit down with friends, family, and parents and ask them to tell you openly where you were wrong or correct and whether any points are missing. Then it’s time to take a look at the job posting. Think carefully about the weaknesses you can name in the interview.
Put weaknesses in the right light.
Once you’ve selected two to three presentable weaknesses, the main thing is to wrap them up nicely. You need a context for this! For example:
“I’m a little messy. There are days when I want to do everything at once instead of doing things one by one. “
Immediately afterward, you should relativize this statement by explaining what measures you are taking against it. These can be to-do lists or predefined periods for specific tasks. So have an individual solution ready for every weakness you cite. This gives you the impression that you are not only aware of your weak points but that you are also actively fighting them.
Cover weaknesses in the resume
Your resume is not immune to weaknesses either! That is why we advise you to use a one page resume template that has already been prepared and tested by experience. Only a few applicants can claim to have a complete career. There can be many reasons for this: Change of study because the subject has turned out to be dead boring. Or job changes in quick succession because it didn’t work out that way. And a more extended period off can happen.
But it would help if you still had an explanation ready. HR professionals immediately notice irregularities of this type. So sooner or later, your interlocutor will come up with it. A tip: stand by your decisions and explain objectively why specific changes in your life were necessary. Also, missteps are not to be viewed purely negatively but reward you with valuable experiences.