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Interview Q & A’s: What are your greatest strengths – and weaknesses?

16 Mar 2015 by Sarah Leembruggen.
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Interview questions, generally speaking, can be divided into two categories: ‘the common’ (nice) and ‘the curveball’ (not so nice).

The following questions: ‘What are your greatest strengths?’ and it’s ‘evil’ twin, ‘What are your greatest weaknesses?’ bridge both camps, but are amongst the top ten questions you’re most likely to be asked so there’s no excuse for being unprepared.

First up, the friendly one…

What are your greatest strengths? A gift of a question for those who want an opportunity to sell themselves! Concentrate on three or four proficiencies, partly to stay focused and secondly, so you don’t appear overconfident (that goes in the weakness pile). Also ensure that for any strength cited, you’ll be expected to give examples to support your claim. Our top ten examples of strengths and aptitudes are:

  1. Having a positive attitude
  2. Going over and above what is required
  3. Being a great relationship builder
  4. A supportive and encouraging manager
  5. Having a determination to succeed
  6. A savvy networker
  7. Being able to meet tight or competing deadlines
  8. Having the ability to prioritise in a demanding environment
  9. Understanding the requirements of business and the media
  10. Having great empathy or intuition

Now, the not so friendly one!

What are your greatest weaknesses? Clever candidates will have learned by now that, like the metaphorical cloud, behind every weakness is a silver lining. (Humbly, not arrogantly) offer up a weakness that could be perceived as a ‘strength’, perhaps adding ways in which you’d learned to overcome it.  Examples may include:

  1. I’m a perfectionist and demand a great amount from my team, but they have consistently delivered and say they are grateful for helping to motivate them to succeed.
  2. Sometimes I take on too much, but I’ve learned to delegate over recent years which has been well received by my team.

The other alternative approach to this question is citing a weakness that is experience but not ability or aptitude based. Experience can be gained in a new role; core competencies, however, will be required to secure that job!

The Works specialises in placing high flyers in PR and corporate communications. We have a strong track record of placing with professional services and offer career-making advice. Do get in touch if you would like our support building your team.

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