Strengths and weaknesses: How to recognize them and deal with them in the job interview

Reading time 6 minutes
Strengths and weaknesses: How to recognize them and deal with them in the job interview

You can almost rely on the question about strengths and weaknesses being asked during the interview. Of course, your future employer wants to know more about you before hiring you. But hardly any question is more difficult to answer.

When it comes to strengths, you don't want to sound arrogant, because there's a fine line between a healthy Self-confidence and pride is narrow. When it comes to weaknesses, you would prefer not to answer at all so as not to shoot yourself out of the running.

But what is the right way to behave? Are there any perfect answers to this question? And why does your future employer put you in this uncomfortable situation and ask you about your strengths and weaknesses in the interview? We'll clear all that up here.

Why the HR manager wants to talk about your strengths and weaknesses

Why future employers ask about strengths is almost self-explanatory. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Before you hire someone, you also want to find out what your counterpart is really good at, right?

But it's not just about that. The answers also show the HR manager how you present yourself. Are you very reserved and don't dare to present your qualities? This sends signals of Uncertainty.

Do you shoot straight off without a full stop and praise yourself to the skies? That, in turn, signals overestimation of yourself. Here it is important to find a healthy balance, with which you can show that you are well aware of your strengths, but also assess them realistically. But we will talk about this in more detail later.

Talk about weaknesses

The question about weaknesses is one of the stressful questions, because it makes almost every applicant nervous. HR managers know this very well and ask it specifically to see how you deal with unpleasant situations. No one expects you to put yourself in a bad light now. Your future employer wants to see behind the mask that everyone wears at an interview. They also want to see how well you are able to reflect on yourself and how you deal with your weaknesses.

When it comes to talking about their own strengths, most people feel on the safe side, because now they can shine with all their advantages. But unfortunately it's not quite that simple. Of course you should show what you can do, after all, you want to win the job for yourself.

However, your answers can quickly degenerate into excessive self-praise and that doesn't go down well at all. So rule number one is: don't overdo it! Limit yourself to the strengths that are really relevant to the job you are applying for. Don't just mention them, but back them up with concrete examples.

Tips for talking about strengths and weaknesses

Talking about strengths and weaknesses is almost a science in itself. But with these four tips, you'll be on the safe side in any job interview.

1. talk about your experiences

In what situation have you been able to demonstrate your organisational skills, team spirit or stress resistance in the past? Only use examples from your professional life. As a young applicant, you can also refer to situations from your training period or university.

The goal is to show that you are indispensable for the team. Therefore, focus on reliability, teamwork, responsibility, determination and, of course, competence.

2. talk appropriately about weaknesses

Talking about weaknesses is much harder for most, because here you need to find a clever middle ground. Prove that you are too healthy Self-reflection without talking yourself down.

Applicants are then quickly tempted to give standard answers, such as: "I'm too perfectionistic and too ambitious." With sentences like this, you turn strengths into supposed weaknesses, which seems clever at first glance. But at second glance, things look very different.

HR managers hear these kinds of phrases all the time. After all, you're not the only applicant who came up with this idea. Recruiters have long since figured this thing out. But what's the right way to do it?

3. talk honestly about your weaknesses

Dare to admit your weaknesses and do not avoid the question. Several studies have shown that you are very likely to do significantly better.

Like a Survey Harvard University showed in 2017, on average more than 75 % of applicants try to describe weaknesses in positive terms. Only just under 25 % answer the question openly and honestly. Nonetheless, about 80 % of hiring managers chose applicants who stood by their weaknesses. So honesty wins!

4. balance weaknesses with strengths

Of course, this does not mean that you should now present all your weaknesses in detail. Continue to focus on your strengths. But what your future employer wants to see is that you have the maturity to acknowledge your weaknesses, learn from them and work on them.

It is best to draw up a list of strengths and weaknesses in advance and think about which deficits you can compensate for thanks to which skills. It is also important to filter out which weaknesses you should rather leave out in relation to the desired job.

Question about the weaknesses

The hidden question about the weaknesses

HR managers don't always come straight to the point. Often they ask hidden questions about your weaknesses and want to know, for example, how your family would describe you or what you would like to change about yourself. That's when you should be on your guard. This is not an attempt to start a nice small talk, but another serious part of the conversation.

Don't start talking out of the box and going on at length about all the problems you may have had in your previous job. Limit yourself to two or three weaknesses that are, at best, irrelevant to your new dream job. For example, if you are applying for a job as a customer service representative, you should not mention communication shyness.

A little joking can lighten up a lot of situations, but don't overdo it. Show the personnel manager that you are well aware that you are in a serious situation. Reflect on your weaknesses but don't let the situation drag you down. Always remain self-confident, even if you talk about supposed deficits.

Search for examples of strengths and weaknesses online

On the World Wide Web you can find numerous lists of strengths and weaknesses for applicants. But mindlessly memorizing them and reciting them at the interview won't get you anywhere. Remember, you're not the only person looking for help online. The hiring manager you're interviewing with will almost certainly have heard all of the items on these lists.

In addition, they are very general and may not reflect your personality at all. How can you be more specific about your strengths and weaknesses if they secretly don't apply to you?

It is therefore indispensable that you first take a close look at yourself and find out which points actually apply to you. A valuable tool for this is the DISC testwhich, by the way, is also popular with HR managers.

learn about my personality

With the DISG test you learn more about your personality

The DISG test is used to analyze your behavior and makes a classification. The basis is formed by four basic types into which your behaviour is classified:

  • D: dominant (red)
  • I: initiative (yellow)
  • S: steady (green)
  • G: conscientious (blue)

The underlying model assumes that these four types lie dormant in each of us. The question is how pronounced they are in detail and that is exactly what this test determines. It provides you with a quasi strengths and weaknesses analysis.

The dominant type

As dominant type you like to take the reins and lead the team unerringly to success. But that can quickly be your undoing, because your nature can sometimes make you seem reckless.


  • ambitious
  • zielstrebig
  • responsible
  • willing to take risks


  • impatient
  • Difficulties with structured action
  • does not like to work according to instructions
  • comes across as arrogant

The initiative type

You surround yourself as influencing type You enjoy talking to people and captivating them with your positive energy. You enjoy their approval and like to be the center of attention, but some of your peers are sometimes annoyed by your strong communicative streak.


  • communicative
  • team-oriented
  • optimistic
  • enthusiastic


  • shies away from detail
  • unstructured
  • conflict-averse
  • stalls discussions

The steady guy:

You are the personthat holds the team together. You offer support where you can, but you quickly forget yourself and take on too many tasks at once.


  • friendly
  • prudent
  • helpful
  • reliable


  • conflict-averse
  • does not want Management tasks take over
  • shrinks from change
  • irresolute

The conscientious type:

Logical work according to plan is just your thing. As cautious type you like to do things perfectly, but you often isolate yourself in the process.


  • reasoning
  • accurate work
  • diligent
  • reliable


  • critical
  • temporarily isolates oneself
  • acts quickly repellent
  • loses itself in Perfectionism

You too can take our Personality Testto find out which colour type you belong to. Learn more about yourself and your personality thanks to the strengths and weaknesses test.

Take the Personality Test from Greator

Only 3 minutes
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Take the free test now
Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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