To Ask or Not to Ask? Interview Questions About Strengths and Weaknesses

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When preparing to interview a candidate, you may find yourself putting together a list of questions to ask. Maybe you’re thinking of putting the question, “What is your greatest strength?” or, “What is your greatest weakness?” on that list. If you are, you may want to think twice: the candidates you’re interviewing will see those questions coming from a mile away, and you can get the same information that you’re after in a more creative way.

Here are some things to think about when considering strengths or weaknesses questions:

Keep candidates on their toes.

The best argument against asking about strengths and weaknesses is that finding an answer for each is interview prep basic. The two questions are so common that they’re expected, and, like any conversation, an interview isn’t as good when it follows a script. If you want to see how a candidate thinks on their feet, avoid interview questions that are on every career website on the internet. Find an original way to get the information you’re after.

Let the candidate show, not tell, their strengths.

Asking a candidate about their strengths doesn’t really help you much. Perhaps they’re mistaken and they think their greatest strength is sales when they don’t have the job history or the performance numbers to back that up. Or, since everyone is trying to put their best foot forward when they interview, perhaps it’s not even a real strength that they possess. Instead, engage the candidate in a conversation about their career so far, and draw your own conclusions about their strengths based on their track record.

Learn about weaknesses indirectly.

Nine times out of ten, if you ask a candidate about their weaknesses, they will answer with a strength. It’s a commonly discussed tactic, and one that successfully helps a candidate dodge the question entirely. Instead of asking for weaknesses, you can ask for specific events when your candidate was frustrated at work, or made a mistake and how they handled it. Asking for specifics makes it more difficult to gloss over their imperfections.

Need more interview tips? Or perhaps looking for someone to take care of interviewing for you? At Burnett’s Staffing, we can take care of the hardest parts of the recruiting and hiring process for you, so you can devote more time to your job and less time to finding great talent. Contact us today to get started!

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