Whenever you’re on an interview and they’re going to ask you the question, “so tell me about your strengths,” you can be very sure that the next question or the question is going to be, “So, tell me about your weaknesses,” and you might as well be prepared for an answer that copes with that.
Now concerning your strengths, you really should have two or three things that you’re able to say without appearing like your acting because, again, to me, interviewing as a sort of about a theater to it you have to have a certain amount of acting skill to do it well.
So, you talk about your determination. You talk about how you care about your work, that you work well with others, you facilitate change . . .whatever it is, you have to be good at. That is what you’ll talk about.
When they ask you that question, “Tell me but your weaknesses,” what I’d like you to do is very simply say, “you know, there was a time in my career where I really spent a lot of time and effort fixating on my flaws and, when I made a mistake, I beat myself up. You know, I would read books. I would try to get better. I’d ask for advice. I’d sit in meetings and try to learn from people who are more experienced than I in that area. But what I learned over time is that I would not be particularly good at certain things.
“For example, in my case, I can’t develop an app. I find that difficult to learn how to code. I just don’t have that kind of mindset but what I’ve learned to do is focus on what my strengths are and play to my strengths. That’s because trying to cope with my weaknesses, well, there’s always someone who’s going to be better at those areas than I am.
“But if I play to my strengths, no one’s going to be better than me in those areas.” So, notice what I’ve done. I’ve reframed the question of weaknesses to say, I used to spend a lot of time worrying about them before I learned over time is to work with my strengths.”
So you indirectly answer it by talking, in my case, about I can’t learn how to code to develop an app. Okay, it’s a throwaway answer. You’ll figure out your version of a dumb weakness to give away in the course of the conversation but then you turn it into, “but what I learned over the course of
time was to fixate on what my strengths are and to work with my strengths because there I’m exceptional. No one is better than me in these areas. Whereas if I become tolerable at my weaknesses, there are plenty of people better than me in those areas so what’s the point?
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1800 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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