How to Answer ‘What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?’

Published: Jul 01, 2024


During an interview, it's common to be asked about your strengths and weaknesses. This Vault video provides some tips for how you should, and shouldn't, answer these questions. 


Whether you’re interviewing for an internship, your first job out of college, or a more senior role, you’ll likely be asked to talk about your strengths and weaknesses. Although questions about strengths and weaknesses seem simple on the surface, they tend to be more complex as you dive into them. So, here are some tips to help you navigate these questions, using your internship experience as an example. 

"What is one of your strengths?"

When you encounter this interview question, think about the impact of your strengths instead of how many times you’ve displayed them. So, you don’t want to answer this question like this: 

“My biggest strength is organization. During my internship last summer, I made to-do lists, spreadsheets with deadlines, and folders to keep track of everything.”

While this did answer the question, there’s a better, more revealing way to do it. A good strategy for answering this question is to use the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. 

So instead, try something like this: 

“One of my strengths is organization. During the first week of my internship, I wanted to make organization a priority in order for the following weeks to run smoothly. I started by creating a daily to-do list and various folders to keep different projects separate. I also created a spreadsheet with all my project deadlines to ensure none were overlooked, and I could prioritize my work to make sure they were all met. As a result, I didn’t miss any deadlines, and I didn’t have to waste time during my day searching for what I needed.”

The first answer lists the examples, while the second is more impactful and better illustrates your strength. 

"What is one of your weaknesses?"

This question forces you to admit that you indeed do have weaknesses. Trying to convince the hiring manager otherwise or trying to pass off a strength like perfectionism as a weakness isn’t the route you want to take. Doing so can send the message that you're dishonest or lack self-awareness. The truth is everyone has something they can improve in.

So, avoid answering with something like this: 

“I take pride in never making mistakes. I’m a really hard worker and always stay well beyond required hours. For example, during my internship last summer I regularly worked two hours longer than all other interns, triple checking my work and other interns’ work to make sure no mistakes were made. I was told I didn’t have to, but I did it any way, I couldn’t help myself.”

Instead, provide the interviewer with some insight into what you think you can improve on, and how to plan to do so. 

“One thing I’ve begun working on is speaking in front of large groups of people. I tend to be more introverted and rely on my written communication skills. During my internship last summer, I noticed I wasn’t speaking up in meetings as much as the other interns. But I also recognized that it was important to speak up in meetings, to share my ideas and contribute. So, I forced myself to speak up a little more in meetings. It was scary at first and I felt nervous, but over time I’ve started gaining confidence, and I know this is a skill I can improve on.“

This answer gives the interviewer a better idea of your level of self-awareness, and it also showcases your dedication to improving. 

With these tips, you’ll conquer your interviews post-internship with ease. For more career advice, check out!