How should I answer questions about strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 21,176
    Career counselor Karen Chopra recommends being honest in your answers and demonstrating how you strive to improve your skills and habits.

    Host: How should I answer questions about strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures?

    Karen James Chopra: What we are looking for here are things that are truthful and real about you, but not damaging in terms of the position. So please don't go to just the canned ones, "I am a perfectionist" or "I am a workaholic". Those aren't likely to feel very authentic to the person interviewing you and they really don't help move the interview forward. What we are looking for is something that truthfully is a challenge for you. "I have always struggled with being done with an assignment, I'd like to work on it till it's perfect and so it has always been challenge for me to just finish it and get it out the door.

    " What you say is, "I've learned over the years to address the situation. I give myself a firm deadline. I do my best by my internal deadline and then hand it off to other people.

    " So that what they get is a sense of one, you are aware that you are not a perfect human being and two, but I have learned how to deal or address that and the same thing is true if you are addressing a failure. You want to talk about something that happened in the past, that really is a failure because if you sort of make up something that isn't a failure, they are going to ask, "Yes, well, that really wasn't about you.

    " So make sure that this is something that really when you talk about it, they can see, "This wasn't my proudest moment.

    " Talk about immediately what you've learnt from it and how you are different now because of that failure and that's what they are looking for in this, not just, "Can you acknowledge having made a mistake?

    " That's part (A) of the question, but part (B) is can you describe what you've learnt from it and that's how you handle the weakness and failure type questions.