How not to give memorized answers about your strength and weakness !

By October 31, 2018Blog

An interview is just not a question and answer session. It is an opportunity for the candidate to connect and engage with the interviewer or the panel. There is no way a memorized scripted answer will help you establish that connection.

Let’s look at this response for Tell me about your weakness.




What do you think of the Responses given for Weakness?

  • Did it sound like a cliched response?
  • Was the interviewer being honest?
  • Was he/she trying to portray his strength of being perfect as a weakness. After all ensuring things are correctly done is a positive trait

Let’s listen to answer for “What is your Strength” question




What do you think of the Responses given for Strength?

  • Did it sound like a memorized response
  • Was there any genuinity in the response?
  • How is the answer different from the responses of other candidates

While you think about it, let us also hear from the Hiring Manager on what goes on in their minds while interviewing.

Straight from the Horse’s…Hiring Managers Mouth !!




The Rookie Mistakes

So what went wrong with the responses. Let us look back the questions we asked.

  • As much hard the interviewer was trying to sound honest, the answers are far from it.
  • The responses are not ideally the ones that will differentiate you from the rest.
  • There is lack evidence supporting the statements that are made. You are a self -starter. How does the interviewer know that? You could have just picked an adjective from the internet and used it.

Looking up to Google or Quora for the ideal response will not work. They may sound fancy.

But is the response a true representation of who you are and what you can bring to the table?

Because that is the most important aspect an interviewer is looking for. With every response you give, they are judging how you think, how you react, whether you will be a good addition to their team.

Sound Authentic & Original – Because your experiences are unique , so are your answers  !!

A memorized response is not tailored to the job profile /job description or the company needs

  1. Understand the role you are applying for , read about the company. Do not miss out on reading the latest news and updates
  2. Go a step further and research about the interviewer. That will give an edge over others. You will have a better chance of connecting and sparking a meaningful conversation. And  you never know, you could have something in common – same interest or probably part of the same professional network.
  3. If you are going through a referral, talk to the current employee to get the internal scoop of what is happening. For ex – There may be a high stake project that the company has signed up for which needs specialized skill.
  4. Incorporate what you learnt, in your responses. It is imperative that your response should articulate how your skills and knowledge match those of the organization
  5. This also means that with every job interview you go for, you need to tailor your response according to the position and company in question.

Here are a few examples

“ I understand you are looking for someone skilled in SAP for your future projects that are in the pipeline. I do not have extensive experience but I am lucky enough to be work for around 6 months in my last project.”


Hiring managers LinkedIn profile shows that he has a passion for trekking. And you happen to love trekking too. Use this to your advantage while answering –

“ I do not give up easily. Recently, I had to take on this very difficult trail and the weather was harsh too.. “

Important point to note here is that : If you are really not a trekker, you should not fabricate a response that is completely untrue.

A Strength lacking in supporting evidence is just a claim

Your strengths should not be just a pack of adjectives picked from the dictionary. The best way to answer this question is to follow a structure. Decide on a structure that suits you. However you may choose to answer , remember that your answer should have these 3 elements

  • The opening line which conveys your main message and builds context
  • A Proof which is in support of your main message. The substantiating statement should talk about the situation you were in , the action you took and the outcome of the action with measurable metrics.
  • Draw a connection with what you can offer is in line with the needs of the company

Typical answers to the Weakness Questions is not the right answer.

If you try to disguise your weakness by showcasing it as a strength, it shows the employer that lack self reflection. Try not to take the easy route of researching the answers from the internet. Instead look into your own life – your experiences, your failures, your achievements.

List of Don’ts while answering this question

  1. Your weakness should not be your true weakness. You are by nature lazy. Just because we need to sound honest, we cannot acknowledge that we are lazy.
  2. Be aware of the difference between “Shortcoming and Weakness” while drafting a response to this question. You are diabetic. You cannot say that being diabetic is a weakness. It is an ailment that you suffer from, unfortunately !
  3. Do not try to mask your weakness as a strength. As per a study, 90% of the responses to this question is Weakness that is put across as a strength. For ex “ I am not comfortable if I don’t finish my work on time. I get very worked up if I don’t meet deadlines, I am trying to work on it ”. No your interviewer need not know of this even if you are trying to improve on this aspect.

Here is how you can draft an honest response –

  1. Take some time out to introspect. Make a note of all your past experiences. Try to look for a pattern. Now see whether you lack in any area
  2. Find out a way to improve in that particular area. And start immediately !!!
  3. These areas of weakness should not be personality traits. It should be related to your skills and knowledge.
  4. Start associating aspirations against your weakness. You may lack in a particular skill. Take a certification for it. You feel that you have not got the experience of managing a sizeable number of team in your current project, look for volunteering opportunities outside of work which gives you chance to lead a team.
  5. Look up to your role models, your idols – may be your current manager or may be a well known personality. What do you like about them? What would it take for you to be like them?

Well rehearsed response Vs A Memorized one.

You cannot stop preparing for an interview just because you do not want to sound memorized. There is a subtle difference between a well rehearsed response and a memorized response.

  1. Write down your responses. Writing helps you refine your answers, correct your mistakes
  2. Give mock interviews
  3. Record your answers
  4. Ask for feedback on your answers to people you trust
  5. Anticipate additional questions that come up based on your responses.