14 Mar 2014

Career Advice: Know Your Strengths/Weaknesses Before You Search


It’s the dreaded interview question. “So, what would you say are your weaknesses?” You don’t want to ignore the question all together, but you also don’t want to reply back with, “Well, I tend to miss deadlines a lot.” Instead, you try to come up with an answer that sounds like a weakness but is really a strength, such as, “Sometimes I just work too hard — I’m always coming in early and staying late.”



While you may wish you wouldn’t get asked such a question during an interview, it actually can benefit you to think about your weaknesses — and strengths — before talking to a hiring manager. In fact, if you really want to get a leg up, you should be assessing your skills and limitations even earlier than that — before you begin your job search.

How to identify your strengths and weaknesses
The idea of sitting down and coming up with the things you’re good — and not so good — at can seem daunting, but there are a few methods to try that can make the process a little easier.

Take assessments to help narrow in on your skills and strengths, like StrengthsFinder 2.0 as a very basic assessment of strengths. There are numerous other assessments that can measure everything from how you manage conflict, to your learning style, to your team orientation. Ask others who you think will give you an honest, objective opinion. It’s also helpful to think about what type of feedback you’ve received from managers during formal reviews.

Consider both hard and soft skills
When assessing your skills, don’t just think about those technical skills you’ve acquired; also consider your soft skills — abilities related to communication, leadership, collaboration, creative problem-solving, etc. — which can be just as important to employers.

Why this will help your job search
Once you’ve identified your strengths, it will help you evaluate what kind of jobs you’re best suited for. It will also help you sell yourself in a job interview. You want to be able to clearly articulate how you will bring value in a particular role. But if you know going into the new job that your strengths align with your new position and you’ll have the opportunity to grow in the areas where you need improvement, it’ll be a win-win situation for both you and the employer. You’ll be engaged in your work and a valued contributor to the organization’s success.