This question is one that is used to prove how self-aware you are as an individual. In terms of the strengths, they are in most cases evident from your CV or cover letter, but the interviewers want to know from you because most people write generic CVs.
Provide a clear and precise answer
This is one of the reasons why you need to prepare for the interview. In the case where you are not adequately prepared, you will not be so sure on which attribute to talk about, which one will give you an upper hand? The secret is not on how sophisticated you seem, the secret is on how confident you are. The other question that is related to this is, “what are the three adjectives that define you?”
Magically convert a flaw into a strength in disguise
Talking about your weaknesses is a much harder task than discussing your strengths. There are two ways to approach this:
i)Transforming a theoretical weakness into a strength-You could talk of a weakness that is known and talk about it as a strength. For example:
“My biggest weakness is being too empathetic. I believe in listening to the opinion of everyone on the team and getting to understand their perspective. This is a good thing as everyone feels respected, however, it could derail decision making.”
This shows that your interpersonal skills are your biggest strength and that you are aware of the flaw in it.
ii)Talking about a weakness you are working on-In some cases, it’s actually good to admit that you are struggling with a certain attribute, but you are work-in-progress. This shows that you are willing to self-assess and work on yourself. For example:
“My biggest weakness is that I get too absorbed in an activity that I may lose track of time. However, I am currently working on my time-management skills.”
Learn to answer the unasked question
Behind every question, there is an unasked question, and the best way to capture the interviewers’ attention is to give that answer beyond the question. For example, when stating your strengths and weaknesses, you could go the extra mile of proving this by giving an example of how this came into play at the workplace.
Interviewer:”Tell us about your strengths.”
You:”My strength is that I am a relationship-oriented leader. In my previous position, for example, there is a water project we were working on as an organization. Unfortunately, the community was not willing to cooperate well in the project and there was a lot of tension and most of my team-mates were getting discouraged. I realized needed to step up and develop a good relationship with the people in the community before embarking on the project. I personally set up meetings with the community leaders and other individuals and helped them to understand what the project means to the community and why they should be part of it. Despite the language barriers. We managed to have a very good relationship and understanding.
You could have left the answer at,”My strength is that I am a relationship-oriented leader. “However, by giving a scenario, the interviewers get to see your skill at work. Do not fear to be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses before you attend the interview, and prepare what to say. You could learn more about your weaknesses and strengths by taking psychometric tests or asking the people in your circles.