Whats Your Strength and Weakness?

Arghh…This is the question we hate the most, which is why this is the question the interviewer loves the most.

That is stupid logic but you have to, I repeat, have to prepare this question in advance, as you will either have to answer this in the “Tell me about yourself” question (strongly recommended that you do) and if you miss it there, the interviewer will make sure he asks you this question separately. It may sometimes also be a part of your application form.

Most of us are not so fond of the strength and weakness question, as it forces us to judge ourselves. Moreover, there is a sort of compulsion of provingWhats Your Strength And Weakness_1 what you state with an example or an elaborate comment. Rightly so, this question is like a double edged sword. When you answer it truthfully, you always have the fear of coming across as weak, and if you reply with an evasive answer; you will always have the fear of coming across a phony. Both ways it has the ability to harm your chances.

So why are you being asked this question? Well, the interviewer is judging you on how well you understand yourself, which indirectly give a picture of yourself awareness. He wants a picture. You give him a picture of what he wants, which is more often than not, related to being a manager in case of an MBA interview. So whether it be strength or weakness, you answer should be best prepared keeping in mind the job profile you’ve had or the specialization field you are interested in. It is in that way you can fit the mould of the perfect candidate for the job or course you are applying for. As always any answer you give will lead to further questioning. So tread carefully.

Again I can’t answer this question for you but can give you a fair idea as to how to go about it.

Let’s deal with the difficult one first, “Weakness“.

Most people don’t answer this honestly. Rather, they try to disguise their strengths as a weakness. This can be dangerous if not carefully executed. Remember that your interviewer is probably a veteran and will not fall for this old trick. So tread carefully. Like saying that “I am a perfectionist and don’t let things go until I get them right” .This sounds more like self praise, than a weakness. Plus don’t even use the word “Perfectionist”. That is expired now due to over use and misuse. Instead acknowledge your actual weakness and how they affect your work and personal life.

Try to choose a weakness, which falls into either of the following category:

Whats Your Strength And Weakness_1Those that can be turned into positives : Examples-: lack of attention to detail as a result of seeing too much of the big picture, difficulty in multi-tasking due to an intense focus on the task at hand, workaholic and hence tend to give less priority to work-life balance, rely too much on facts and statistics and hence delay simple decisions, etc

Those that you are trying to improve : Examples-: learning to delegate things and spend less time on assignments, difficulty in trusting people and tend to finish everything on my own, time management, can be disorganized at times, risk management, spellings, fear of speaking before very large crowd(everybody is a little nervous), procrastination, being too sensitive, lacking assertiveness, just being an introvert, getting too attached/emotional, lacking business exposure due to technical job and last but not least, all the examples from point no.1.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong in accepting a few flaws. Nobody is perfect & your interview panel knows that best. The real challenge is to try and overcome your flaws and this is what the interviewer will like to hear about every weakness you mention, that is “Your way to fix it”.

Here is an example:

Time Management is something I am not very good at as I tend be disorganized sometimes. I have missed some very important meetings at work because of this. I have started using the year and month planner, that’s there in the first few pages of every yearly diary that we buy. I have self learned to prioritize the tasks at hand and that’s worked in my advantage. I am sure by the time I am done with my MBA; this will not be a problem at all.

So point to remember is:
Be truthful. Accept your flaws and their effect on your performance. And lastly how you plan to overcome them? The last sentence is very important as you don’t want to give any indication that you aren’t willing and able to meet the rigors of business school.

Now let’s move on to “Strengths“.

Most of you can go on and on about your strengths. Take that into your advantage but remember one thing when it comes to expressing your strength that “Humility matters”. Don’t go too overboard.

Strengths are considered to be the talents and/or innate abilities that “click” for you. In other words, these are the things that you’d be tempted to say “It wasn’t effort, I’ve always had the ability Whats Your Strength And Weakness_3to….”

Strengths can be of the following types:

Personal traits : Examples-: punctual, self-motivated, adaptable to change, goal- oriented, result-oriented, assertive, confident, straight talk, leader, decision making ability, quick learner and all opposites of weaknesses that I had mentioned earlier.

Knowledge based strengths : Examples-: Computer skills, communication skills, fondness with numbers, maths, risk management, better domain knowledge of …., a gifted salesman, thinker etc

Just make sure that your strengths & weaknesses don’t contradict each other. For example: If you say that “giving attention to detail” is your strength but then saying that your weakness is that you can be “careless” at times, then your strength & your weakness are contradicting each other. You will have to provide some example to support your strength.

Here is a good example:

I am excellent at adapting changes and becoming comfortable in new settings and this includes learning new things. This has benefited me greatly at my workplace in taking up a key role in my team in a very short period of time.

With so many examples that I have given, I hope you are able to relate to a few of them. Even if you are not, Just be truthful and come up with your own.
All the best!!

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39 thoughts on “Whats Your Strength and Weakness?

  1. Hi , Great articles .Really helpful for my preparation .Would be great if we can come up with an article daily as the GD PI of many colleges are round the corner.Personally would prefer articles on Value Ethics Hobbies and more general stuff .Thanks in advance

    1. This article was very helpful as it belongs to the FAQ category.I have quit my job for MBA exams preparation.I really confuded about what should be the acceptable reason i should give.It would be great if some article is written on "Providing good reasons for quitting the job and preparing MBA exams" category people.

  2. Just what I wanted. Great article ! It was to the point and the best part is you made my job much easier as the examples that you've stated are actually my strengths and weaknesses 🙂

  3. If I say that my strength is : "I am a quick and eager learner".

    The follow-up question is "Justify with a few examples"

    What kind of examples does one give to answer such a question?

    1. Just an example:

      Quickly adapt to new employment guidelines and procedures and projects and requirements etc.
      Have ability to learn new procedures/technology quickly and efficiently. Explain how you have been part of so many projects in so less time, with good results in all..

      Something like that..

    2. This looks good for a work-ex guy…

      What else can be included for a fresher (zero work-ex) ?
      What can convince the interview panel?

  4. First time I felt someone really hit the nail to explain what strength and weakness are and how they should be presented

    Definitely the writer has some great writing skills …. Kudos

  5. Hello Sir , I have few interviews lined up for next month.My problem is that i am a 2012 graduate with no job in hand.Can you please provide some insights on how to tackle the gap year question ?

    1. Try to be very honest here. You can site family or health issues if any. You can always say that you were a victim of recession/ less campus placements and were not really getting any job that would seem a little challenging . After 3-4 months of trying, you decided it would be better to switch careers and try to advance in a field that better suits your aptitude and interests (clear from ur marks), hence MBA. Be honest. Trust me, the interviewers understand all lies.

    2. Sir but the fact is that i am a commerce graduate and hence there is no topic of career switch as more or less i will be studying the same subjects in my MBA that i have studied during grad.Now my answer-

      During campus i was not really interested in getting a job so i didnt sit for any of the interviews(given the fact that i have done my grad form one of the coveted colleges of Delhi University and hence a lot of companies came to our campus) as i was very clear that i have to go for MBA and i am still adamant about my decision.My sheer passion for MBA is driven by the fact that in future i have to become an entrepreneur and i totally believe that a MBA degree will give the required learning and insight to pursue my dream.Though i have not yet planned about the venture that i will enter into.

      Please review 🙂

    3. Thats great. But remove this last line "Though i have not yet planned about the venture that i will enter into." And my suggestion is if you say you want to be entrepreneur, you should be ready with you business plan or atleast area. Otherwise, it gives a very negative information about your career goals (uncertainty).

  6. hi sir..kindly review my strengths and weakness..ur comments on my post "tell me about yourself" were really good..kindly review this one..as i feel i coiuldnt write much:

    Weakness:
    • Getting carried away very fast as soon as i find any situation favouring me has been a major problem in my life. Thereby i am not able to see a big picture and end up reworking many things. Initially when i joined Infosys after college this weakness of mine was my biggest enemy but with time and an experience of 2.5 years, i have learnt to control my feelings and see the big picture first and then react to it. I purposely worked on this weakness and forced myself into it to improve myself. The results are positive and won many appreciations for my work.
    Strength:
    • I have never shied away from doing the hard work. From school, to college and now Infosys this strength of mine has helped me overcome may difficult situations in my life.
    This is one strength which has helped me to gain confidence that no matter how less is your knowledge in a particular field or no matter how new you are in the field and no matter if u lack something in yourself if you have the zeal in you to give 200 percent with your heart out to the work you are doing nothing can stop you.

  7. hello sir plz review my strengths nd weakness
    strength
    – i am a hardworking person,who tries to give her best to task in hand.
    – i am a really straight forward person
    weakness
    – being a fresher, i have no idea about bussiness world
    – always lived in a protective family environment, so no idea how wud i manage myself in dis tough b-school world

    1. An honest answer is always appreciated. So good job. But you should portray your weaknesses in such a way that you are able to provide some way of overcoming them. Your first weakness "being a fresher and having less idea (not no idea) about business world is good. As you can say you are now reading business magazines and following up news regularly. However, your second weakness might actually work against you. I suggest you go through the weakness section again in the article and formulate something else that fits you and doesn't displease the panellists. 🙂

  8. Sir, Can I mention my "obsession with Sleeping" as a weakness??
    For Eg, When I sleep, I not only sleep, its more or less l get into Coma. Rarely, I manage to wake up at predefined time.

    1. Refrain from using such weaknesses that you cannot work to improve upon. This one, specifically, doesn't give a very good picture of a future manager. It looks more of a medical condition, than a weakness.

    2. sir can i say- i am nt a mornig person( as in i cn stay awake whole night but i fnd it difficult to get up eary mrng)..- however i have have been gettin up at 6 am for the past 3-4 months and going out to do some excercise.. (wich i really am).

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