Many of us fear the common job interview questions, “What are your greatest strengths? What are your greatest weaknesses?” While you can prepare for this sort of question, the approach can change: Do I focus on my strengths, or will that make me look too arrogant? Do I talk about my weakness as a strength, such as, “My greatest weakness is that I work too hard.”? What if I really tell the truth about what I think is my greatest weakness and they don’t hire me because of that?” Why do these sorts of questions make us feel so nervous?
The fact is that many of us don’t like to look at ourselves in such extremes, and we don’t always take the time to recognize our best qualities or our worst habits. Yet this kind of examination can help you figure out how you work best (both on the job and in your everyday life) and even what sort of position will fit you best as a worker.
Sometimes you’ll be asked to think about your strengths and weaknesses for your current job, or perhaps you’re looking to see what sort of job will work best for you. Examining your strengths and weaknesses can help do that. So how do you practice true self evaluation, looking honestly at your good and bad skills and habits? Know your place of work well: What do they think is important as a skill? Do you have those skills or do you need to improve?
Sit down in a quiet place and think about what you do well and what you need to work on. If you’re unsure — sometimes we see ourselves the least clearly — ask someone who knows you well, whom you can trust, and listen to their opinion of your work. Give yourself a good, long period of time in an undisturbed place to relax and take a good look at yourself in terms of strengths and weaknesses. And make sure you find a balance: Be truthful with yourself but don’t exaggerate in either direction. You probably have more strengths than you know…or weaknesses. Accept both honestly. This will help you see what kind of job will be best for you: Do you work better in an office or at a job that requires travel? Are you better with numbers or talking with people? Knowing this will help you figure out where you will work best.
If you want to look at yourself at work, figure out how best to improve your performance. This is the time to focus on things you do well correctly and without favoring yourself. Make sure you have written down accomplishments, because a supervisor simply may not remember all of the good work you’ve done. Ask unbiased co-workers about your performance. Look at ways in which you have added to the success of a project or a department and write down what you did to make that happen. Look at missed opportunities and think about what you might have done differently and where your weaknesses affected you. If you’re giving this to a supervisor, make multiple copies, use professional language, and think of specific ways to improve your performance. Remember as well — the last point is not a weakness; it’s you wanting to do your job better.
If you can take a good, honest look at yourself and identify your own strengths and weaknesses, you will have the power to control both and function to the best of your abilities, and improve where needed. You will also be able to figure out what type of job is best for you. Doing so will only affect you positively over time. Reach out to the job placement experts at Creative Staffing and read our related blog posts to help prepare for your next interview!