Why do employers ask “what are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?”
1. To test your level of self-awareness
While companies are on the lookout for top graduates, they do not want to hire a graduate oblivious of their weaknesses.
Instead, they want to take on and work with an employee who is not only aware of their weak points but who also takes active steps to turn them into a strength.
The best way to tackle this common interview question is to firstly choose a genuine weakness that you have been proactively working on that has exhibited positive results.
Back this up with an example of how you have been improving this flaw including the results achieved so far.
These examples can be drawn from all areas of your life whether it was from your summer paid placement, volunteering activities, or even during your university studies.
Read more about how volunteering can boost your employability.
Similarly, the employer wants not only to judge how you perceive your own strengths but also to see how confident and articulate you speak about yourself.
Back up your chosen strength with an example of how you demonstrated this, highlighting parts you’ve been proud of in the workplace or while at university.
Although this is a prime opportunity to sell yourself, striking the balance between being too humble and overly confident is the best way to present yourself to the employer.
2. To test your skillset
Ultimately, the employer will want to know your weaknesses will not impact your performance in your graduate job.
When applying for graduate jobs if you find that there are skills and personality traits that are mentioned in job descriptions, that you think you lack in, then check out these free online courses to help you upskill.
Choose your weaknesses carefully and keep the graduate job role fresh in your mind by decrypting the job description beforehand to ensure you don’t make the mistake of referring to something fundamental to the role.
Employers want to hire high-achieving graduates whose strengths match up with what the company is looking for in an ideal candidate, so this will give you the opportunity to illustrate how you stand out from the competition.
Selecting a strength that is one of the main skills of the role is the key to success.
After expanding on your example, directly linking to how this would relate to the graduate job is an excellent way of illustrating to the employer how well-suited you would be for the job role.
3. To test your composure and communication skills
Employers will also be assessing how well you handle this tricky question under the heightened pressure of a graduate job interview setting, and if you can keep a level-head when faced with tough tasks.
Nerves can run high during an interview leading you to ramble, so take a moment to collect your thoughts, combat those nerves and regain composure.
Check out our recent blog for more tips on how to relax before a job interview.
Employers will not penalise you for asking for a minute or two to mentally prepare your response and compose yourself, and how you articulate your answer will make you stand out from the competition.