Determining Your Strengths and Weaknesses: Strengths

You've probably heard 'strengths and weaknesses' questions at interviews before. These questions are worth asking yourself. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses. Your strengths get you jobs and promotions. Weaknesses can prevent you from getting either.

You may have more strengths than you realize. One of the strange things about job interviews is that when asked what their strengths are, many people clam up. Experienced interviewers will tell you it can require a lot of effort to get information out of interviewees about their strengths. That could be you. If you're a talented person, and not getting jobs after interviews, you may be unintentionally hiding your talents.

Some people are so good and experienced at what they do that they make it look effortless, and they don't consider their high level of performance a strength. It's so natural to them they barely notice that other people find it difficult. They're actually astonished when others can't do that work. That's the sort of strength you need to be looking for in yourself.

Identifying your strengths

Ask yourself:

  • What jobs do you really excel at?
  • What are the areas where you're most productive?
  • What types of work do you naturally find easy?
  • Which jobs do you find easiest when problem solving?
  • Which roles are best for you when you're communicating with others?
  • Which areas are you really confident working in?
  • Which sort of work environment is best for you, teams or solo work?

Those were fundamental job criteria you just answered. These are the jobs you should be hunting. Interviewers ask 'strengths and weaknesses' questions because that's exactly what they need to know. The right person for any job, the person who really should be in that job, has the appropriate strengths.

Marketing your strengths

After identifying your strengths, the next stage is to get them into a form you can use on your cover letter, CV, and at interviews. Marketing your strengths and skills may not be one of your strengths, so you'll need to train yourself to do that. You actually have to practice until it's a normal response to the questions.

To get your strengths into conversational form, use the answers to the questions above, and relate them to the job criteria. You can put several criteria together easily.

For example:

My strengths are problem solving, customer service, handling complaints, and sales. I'm most productive in a good team environment, and I like challenging roles where I can use my skills as a technical adviser.

The combination here covers just about all the criteria for a sales job in computers and software. It tells interviewers a lot, and it's all relevant to that job. Most importantly, it's also exactly the material the interviewers need to document to recommend you for the job.

To get your responses right, you can also back statements up with examples contained in other questions. You've explained what your strengths are, and you can prove it. You are the right person for the job.

Just as important is to learn how to spot your weaknesses, which can be even more helpful in many interviews.