Bob Larson, CPC
Bob Larson, CPC

While job-hunters may wish they wouldn’t get asked questions about strengths and weaknesses during an interview, it is clearly

beneficial to think about them before talking to a hiring manager, according to an article from In fact, if you really want to get a leg up, you should be assessing your skills and limitations even before you begin your job search.

“Knowing your strengths and weaknesses before the job search helps you hone in on the types of jobs that best match your qualities and abilities,” says Neil Kokemuller, college marketing professor and former retail manager. “If you apply for jobs that don’t match your abilities, you set yourself up for failure and waste time. As you get into the interview process, knowing your strengths and weaknesses is a huge factor in effectively selling yourself to a hiring manager.”

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, according to the article.

Lea McLeod, who provides corporate coaching and career consulting services, suggests that you take assessments to help narrow in on your skills and strengths. “I personally like [the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 as a very basic assessment of strengths,” McLeod told the online employment site. “There are numerous other assessments that can measure everything from how you manage conflict, to your learning style, to your team orientation.”

Another way to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses is to ask others who you think will give you an honest, objective opinion. “Ask people you know personally to share what they see as your strong sides and your weak side,” McLeod said. “Often others see perspectives we don’t see in ourselves. Get feedback from your peers and/or managers about what your strengths and weaknesses are in the workplace.”

It’s also helpful to think about what type of feedback you’ve received from managers during formal reviews. “Think back on past performance reviews,” said Patricia Vargas, manager of Marketing Production at Halogen Software, a provider of talent management solutions. “What kind of feedback have you gotten from your managers and peers? Look for trends — for example, repeat feedback that you’re a great team player or very proactive. Take note of feedback you’ve received around both job-specific skills and soft skills.”

According to the article, 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.

“In general, you should have a sense for what your strengths are around dealing with tasks, processes, relationships and communication,” McLeod noted in the article. “Those are the core components of getting work done in any workplace. On the technical side, if you are looking for a job with specific technical — or hard — skills, you should absolutely know where you stand on those. Many hard skills will be tested by employers in environments like engineering, software and public relations.”

“Once you’ve identified your strengths, it will help you evaluate what kind of jobs you’re best suited for,” Vargas “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.”

Vargas noted that finding the right job fit is important, because you want to feel both comfortable and confident in the role. You don’t want to start a new job, only to find that your skills aren’t really up to par or that you don’t consider the company to be the right cultural fit, the article pointed out.

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,” Vargas added.

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 strength such as, “Sometimes I just work too hard — I’m always coming in early and staying late.”