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by Paddy Collins on September 28th, 2017


This is the third of the series of typical interview questions. For each question we outline why the interviewer is asking the question and how the interviewee should respond to it.

Our suggestions should be treated as guidelines, always adapt them to your personal judgement of the situation and to your own particular experience and individual style.

What are your 3 top strengths and your main weaknesses?

Or quite similar:

If asked, what would your friends (and enemies) say about you?

Why is this question asked?

– To see if you’re self-aware and to identify your mindset and attitude.

– Do your strengths fit the job spec? Do they match your CV?

– To check your consistency across the interview, application process, CV etc.

– To see if you are you self-aware and mature enough to know and express your strengths and acknowledge your weakness.

– Have you got the good judgement to decide which of your strengths / weaknesses should be emphasised as they could ‘fit’ to the organisation, culture, job?

– Have you figured out how to address and manage your ‘allowable’ weakness?

– Can you handle the question – are you prepared, honest and objective (with a healthy self-critique)?

How to answer?

– Stay calm – remain composed.

– Remember your feedback from your colleagues – what are your personality / leadership / behavioural strengths?

– Highlight positives. Giving an example of your strength say e.g. “I am told consistently that I am strong with….”

– Make the link from you your main weakness?r interests to your skills – always link to the job.

– On weaknesses, choose a non-critical competence or skill (an ‘allowable weakness’).

– Ensure you can turn the weakness into a positive – show how it ‘works’ for the target job.

– Show how you have dealt with it and prove you have overcome it. Show resilience.

– Appreciate and emphasize the learning you get from managing your weakness.

– Present examples of positive feedback you have received from all sources.

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