Mastering Common Interview Questions & Responses Series #2: What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?

We’re excited to bring you the 2nd series on mastering common interview questions and responses. In this blog, we’ll walk through how to answer:

  1. What are your greatest strengths?
  2. What are your greatest weaknesses?

These questions are quite interrelated because your greatest strengths can sometimes be your greatest weaknesses depending on how you frame your response. If you’re not well prepared, these questions can be challenging! The one thing you don’t want to say is that you do not have any weaknesses, because that means you are not self-aware. In addition, depending on how the question is asked, don’t just give one answer and leave it at that. Make sure you elaborate on your response with work-related examples from your past. That said, if this question is left more open-ended, i.e. what are your greatest strengths/weaknesses, then this is an excellent place to apply the rule of 3. This allows you to be structured, methodical and your interviewer gets a good sense of what to expect. It also helps you organize your thoughts so you don’t simply ramble on and on. I talk about the rule of 3 in my first interview series – Mastering Common Interview Questions & Responses Series #1: Why you and why this company / position? so make sure to check it out!

Let’s walk through some example responses while also applying the rule of 3:

Interviewer: So tell me, what are your greatest strengths?

Response: My greatest strengths are that I am hardworking, I pay attention to detail and am a good learner.

  1. Hardworking – I am very hardworking and dependable and like to get good work done. I always make sure that everything assigned to me is completed well and on time and that has led me to excel in my current role
  2. Pay attention to detail – This becomes even more important when things get really busy and deadlines are looming. There’s a tendency to let things slip which is not a good thing. I always try to make sure that the little things are done well and on time
  3. Learner – I always believe that there’s something new to learn with every experience. I therefore approach my job and life with this attitude which means that am always learning and I will definitely bring this trait to this position

Of course depending on what your strengths are, these responses will change. Just make the experiences you mention are authentic to you and you can speak to them if proded.

So now let’s look at how you could answer; What are your greatest weaknesses. With this question, it’s very important to remember to turn around your answer at the end. In this response, we’ll do a few things, we’ll turn two of the above strengths into weaknesses as well as ‘redeem’ ourselves.

Interviewer: So tell me, what are your greatest weaknesses?

Response: My greatest weaknesses are:

  1. Because I am very hardworking, I sometimes have a difficult time saying no to my manager and projects even when I have limited bandwidth. I have learnt that it is OK to confirm priorities for the tasks I have in hand. Most of the time, it just requires that I speak up so this item could be prioritized over something else that I have been assigned to work on.
  2. I pay attention to detail and like to get good work done, and because of that, I’ll tend to spend a little too much time checking my work which then wastes time. However, I’ve come to a good balance by setting up a system to ensure everything is done right the first time so I don’t end up wasting valuable time.
  3. I sometimes take on tasks that could be easily delegated to others. Although I’ve never missed a deadline, it is still an effort for me to assign others the work and to simply be OK that someone else can do a good job as myself. I’ve learnt over time that it is OK to trust others so long as you’ve provided enough guidance and direction on the task.

Do you now see how both questions are interrelated and depending on framing, the responses can easily fit into each other? This is one of the best ways to think about answering these types of questions which then allows you to save some cycle time.

Hope this was helpful! Please note that all these are sample responses, and there are many different ways to answer interview questions. Would love to hear what other interview questions you want us to tackle. And if you or your friends are in the market for resume & LinkedIn reviews or interview prep services, feel free to reach out. We’re offering a 30 minutes free consultation to get started. Contact us at or [email protected].