Strengths and weaknesses of an employee

Do you have a job interview coming up? Are you wondering what questions to expect? In addition to questions about your work experience, you can expect questions about an employee’s strengths and weaknesses. When we take on a job, we bring not only our skills and experience but also our strengths and weaknesses. These traits reflect an employee’s personality and impact effectiveness in performing duties and relationships with other colleagues. Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses is fundamental to the professional development of every employee. As it turns out, not every candidate can convincingly answer questions about their strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we will take a closer look at what an employee’s strengths and weaknesses might be and how to discuss them with a recruiter. You will also learn what to avoid during a job interview when presenting the good and bad traits of an employee.

Table of content

In this article, you will learn:

  • What can be an employee’s strengths?
  • Strong points of an employee – how to present yourself?
  • What are an employee’s weaknesses?
  • Examples of an employee’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Employee shortcomings – what not to say?

Strengths of an IT industry employee

The strong traits of an employee are a true treasure trove of their professional potential. These traits make them stand out from the crowd and highlight their value to the company they work for. What exactly are strengths? Strong, positive traits of an employee are the characteristics, skills, and talents where the employee demonstrates particular proficiency and effectiveness.

We distinguish between soft skills, such as communication, empathy, or teamwork, which help in effective collaboration with others, and hard skills, like specialized knowledge in programming, finance, or design, which prove one’s expertise in a particular field.

However, it is important not only to possess these skills but also to use them effectively in practice. Interview questions about your strengths aim to check whether you are confident in your abilities. An interview is not about repeating exactly what you included in your resume. The recruiter will expect to hear something new from you. It’s about convincing them by presenting your strengths effectively.

How to present your strengths – job interview

If the position you are applying for is your dream job, work on self-presentation techniques that will help you present yourself in the best possible way. Good self-presentation involves making your strengths and weaknesses balance in your favor. How to achieve this? You need to present your advantages in a way that the recruiter remembers you well.

Avoid listing all the skills you mentioned in your resume. Focus on those relevant to the position you are applying for. Moreover, mention those that fall into three different categories – experience, knowledge, and personality strengths. It’s also important to give an example of a situation where you used a strength in practice. Choose an example that you feel is your greatest professional success. Use the STAR model for this purpose:

  • S (Situation): Describe the context, problem, challenge, or situation you faced.
  • T (Task): Explain the task you had to complete and your responsibilities.
  • A (Action): Describe the specific steps, actions, and decisions you took.
  • R (Result): Detail the outcome of your actions and the specific benefits achieved for the company.

Examples of employee strengths

Imagine you are a candidate applying for a job in the IT industry, and you are interested in a position where the requirements include:

  • Good practical knowledge of PL/SQL and Oracle databases (at least 2 years of commercial work)
  • Experience in designing software modules in JAVA is a big plus
  • Ability to create and optimize database queries and model data structures
  • Ability to implement databases (stored procedures)
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to collaborate

Your response using the STAR model might look like this:

  • Situation: I worked as a database engineer at a technology company, where our main task was to maintain and optimize a large database system based on Oracle and PL/SQL. One day, we noticed a significant slowdown in system performance, which started negatively affecting end users.
  • Task: My task was to identify the cause of the slowdown and implement an effective solution.
  • Action: I started by analyzing system logs and performing a database performance profile. I identified that the problem was due to non-optimal PL/SQL queries and the lack of appropriate indexes in several key tables. I redesigned these queries, introducing optimizations and adding the missing indexes.
  • Result: The optimizations significantly improved system performance.

If you don’t know what strengths an employee might have, here is a sample list:

  • Communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Punctuality
  • Time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Flexibility
  • Honesty
  • Good work organization
  • Ability to work under pressure

Employee weaknesses

Did you know that the recruiter might also ask about your weaknesses? The job interview also verifies whether you are aware of your shortcomings. How might a question about weaknesses sound? Here are some examples:

  • Which of your traits has most hindered your work in a team?
  • What were you criticized for by coworkers/superiors?
  • Describe a situation where your weakness made it difficult to complete a task.

An ideal employee is one who, in addition to their strengths, can also mention their weaknesses during a job interview. Employee weaknesses are natural, and recruiters know this. Avoid mentioning workaholism or perfectionism as weaknesses during the interview. So, what weaknesses should you mention? Describe a negative trait that is not significant for the job you are applying for.

Examples of employee weaknesses

Usually, we perceive traits as negative or positive. Fortunately, not all traits are seen as weaknesses or strengths for every job. Let’s look at a trait such as attention to detail. A programmer or software tester should precisely detect errors, while a project manager, focusing too much on details, might cause project delays. So, what weaknesses should you mention during a job interview to avoid harming yourself? Mention a trait that is not significant for your future job. Are you wondering what bad traits an employee might have? Here they are:

  • Reluctance to travel
  • Reluctance to speak in public
  • Lack of artistic skills
  • Difficulty in writing texts
  • Lack of negotiation skills
  • Reluctance to do physical work

Nothing stops you from saying that despite your weaknesses in certain areas, you strive to improve yourself. This will demonstrate that you have perseverance, which is valued in virtually every industry.

Do’s and don’ts in presenting your strengths and weaknesses

When presenting your strengths, the job interview may verify the truthfulness of what you say, so avoid lying at all costs. An experienced recruiter will immediately sense that something is off. Be prepared to be asked about your weaknesses as well. Self-assessment is very important. Mentioning both your strengths and weaknesses should be part of your presentation. Do not list too many strengths, as you may be perceived as narcissistic. It is also poorly viewed to emotionally discuss your weaknesses. Remember to maintain moderation in talking about yourself, which is the key to success.

Kaja Stefaniak
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