Whether you are describing yourself in a job interview for a potential employer or describing someone else --- real or fictional --- for a narrative, you may be required to identify strengths and weaknesses in character. On the surface, it may seem that describing strengths and weaknesses is a fairly simple task. However, some factors --- including a lack of self-awareness or poor critical thinking skills --- might make this a more difficult process than expected. Understanding your audience will help you with this activity.
- Skill level:
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Identify the character traits that you want to describe. This will allow you to get to the "heart" of the matter. For example, a weakness might not be that you are "lazy"; it might instead be that you are "unfocused" and "easily distracted." Similarly, it is unlikely that a strength would be that you are "successful"; it might instead be that you are "driven" or "tenacious."
Show how these strengths and weaknesses have come into play. The most impactful descriptions are ones that rely on anecdotal evidence that demonstrates these traits, not just lists them for an audience. For example, instead of saying that someone is effective at time management, detail a time in which the individual had to accomplish a number of different tasks in a short amount of time.
Describe these traits from both positive and negative perspectives. This is especially important for a job interview. For example, if your weakness is that you can be unorganised, you might also add that you have recognised this flaw and you are working diligently to correct it by implementing personal organizational practices, such as structured note taking, list making and using computer devices to keep yourself on track.
Tips and warnings
- Remain humble when describing strengths, but be detailed with your claims.
- Always list weaknesses with the acknowledgement that these weaknesses can be channelled into more successful practices.
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- Washington Post; What's a 'Weakness'? A Way to Show Strength; Lily Whiteman; June 25, 2006
- College Grad: Job Interview Strength and Weakness
- Job Interview and Career Guide; Examples of Strengths and Weaknesses| List of Strengths and Weaknesses; June 10, 2009
- Job Application and Interview Advice: Top Answers To Job Interview Strength And Weakness Questions