Interviews can be daunting, and you never know what kind of questions will come up. However, ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses’ is likely to come up one way or another, as this is an area any interviewer will want to explore.
When demonstrating your strengths to an interviewer, following the “show, don’t tell” principal is key. You shouldn’t just say you are a good communicator you should follow this up with an example that shows how good a communicator you are. Often the best examples come from your current, recent or relevant role.
The STAR technique is a great technique for any of your examples. These not only highlight your strengths but show how they led to a positive outcome in a previous role. It’s all about demonstrating how you can add value to your new employer.
Situation – describe the situation you were confronted with or the task you needed to accomplish. Make it concise and informative, concentrating solely on what is useful to the story, For example, if the interviewer asks for an example of teamwork, explain the task you had to undertake as a team.
Task/Action – Now that you have set the context of your story, you need to explain what you did. Remember to talk in terms of “I did” instead of “We did”. Steer clear of technical information unless it’s crucial to your story. Explain what you did, how you did it and why you did it.
Result – Explain the result. Use the opportunity to describe what you accomplished and learned. This helps you make the answer personal and enables you to highlight further skills.
“One of my strengths is project management, as I thrive on finding solutions in a structured and cooperative way. For example, I recently oversaw the development, testing and launch of a new product line, which met the time and budget constraints. I played a crucial role on coordinating the teams, the various components and the multiple deadlines of the overall project, allowing the rest of the team to concentrate on their tasks.”
Weaknesses are generally a harder topic to cover than strengths. The key is genuine self-reflection and not relying on the old cliches of being a perfectionist/workaholic. Under no circumstances should you ever say you have no weaknesses; this will give off peak Patrick Bateman vibes.
It is worth taking time before any interview to assess your professional development areas and how you have worked to improve them. To do this, list your skills and rate them from 1 to 10…
Honesty can be a valuable tool here; why not tell your interviewer that you have struggled with constructive feedback in the past? As long as you demonstrate how you have worked to improve in this area and how you plan to continue to improve going forward. Your honesty will help you stand out to the interviewer, and it may be the edge you need to secure your new role.
“I used to struggle with time management because I’ve always been detail-oriented, so it sometimes takes me longer to finish a project than I initially think it will. However, to help overcome this, I started using time-tracking software in my previous job. It helped me estimate the duration of a task more accurately and always deliver on time.”
Interviews are tough at the best of times, and it can be a real challenge to fully prepare when you don’t know what questions will come up. Working with an experienced recruiter can give you a real insight into how a business or hiring manager conducts their interviews and give you the competitive edge needed to succeed.
If you would like to speak to me about finding a job within the Financial Services market, you can get in touch by clicking here to drop me an email.