Interview Question That Gauges Communication Skills

By Michael VerdiBusinessman Wearing Cape

“What are your strengths, weaknesses?”

You should face this interview question the way actor Robert Conrad did in the 1977 Eveready battery commercial, when he placed a battery on his shoulder and said …”I dare you to knock it off!” says Career Coach Rod Colón.

Some may be too young to remember that commercial from the 1970s, but, Colón uses the analogy to persuade job hunters to answer this question with confidence. He explains that an Interviewer’s motives for asking this question are twofold:

  1. The strength part of the question gives the Interviewer a sense of your communication skills, e.g., how well you can think on your feet and provide clear, concise responses.
  2. The weakness part of the question also gets to your communication skills, according to Colón, who noted that an Interviewer may also be asking this question to elicit negative information about you to determine whether you would be a good fit for the company.

When answering the “strengths” part of the question, Colón advises job seekers to make sure they have already done their “due diligence” to understand the company itself, so they can illustrate the strengths that are relevant to that particular organization.

“The biggest mistake job candidates make when answering this question is not including how their strengths impact results. It is important to illustrate a project where your strengths result in lower costs, quicker project completion, etc.,” he said.

A sample response could be: “I pride myself on my customer service skills and my ability to resolve what could be difficult situations. As a result, under my management, global complaint tickets were reduced by 20 percent,” he explained.

The “weaknesses” portion of the question poses a different and more dangerous problem – identifying a flaw.  “Do you think JP Morgan or (General Electric) GE would answer the question “What is your company’s weakness?  Absolutely not!” he quipped.

It is important to use a positive tone when giving your answer.  An example response could be: “Excellence and quality are a priority to me.  While 95 percent is acceptable for project completion, I always strive for 100 percent. If a project is ahead of schedule, but not up to my standards, I would take the extra time to ensure it was the best that it could be,” he continued.

The key take-away from this Job Coach’s advice is to be: confident, positive, and results-focused when answering interview questions that concern your strengths & weaknesses. 

If you have questions about your own career contact Rod Colón by sending an email to: rod@rodcolon.com.

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