Interview Tips – Strengths and Weaknesses

As interview season for round 2 winds down, many applicants probably feel Having fun & chilling through life‘s sentiment that one of the best parts of finishing an interview is knowing you are a step closer to being done with the entire application process. But interviews are not quite over yet, so there is still preparation to be done. Asiangal wisely prepared for her interviews by writing out and rehearsing responses to commonly asked questions. In previous posts, we have provided tips on how to respond to such questions as:
– Tell me about your background.
– What are your career goals?
– Why do you want an mba? – Why this school?
– Where else are you applying?
– Tell me about a time you showed leadership or learned from a mistake.

Another popular interview question is “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.” While this open-ended introduction can feel overwhelming, it is a terrific opportunity to tell the interviewer exactly what you want him/her to remember about you.  In other words, it is the perfect chance to clarify your “brand.”

First have a few strengths already picked out to discuss. Choose wisely and remember schools are looking for leadership, teamwork, intellectual curiosity, innovative vision and creativity, but remember it is not enough to simply have a good list of strengths. The key to this question is giving the interviewer reasons to believe you will exhibit those qualities at school. The best predictor of future behavior is past performance. So for each strength, you must provide concrete examples from your past. Further, you should try to choose examples from different parts of your life – work, community service, extra-curriculars, maybe even something about personal background. A diverse set of examples will not only keep your interviewer interested but also show that you are a well-rounded individual.

When addressing your weaknesses, be real.  Don’t give a stock response that is a strength covered in a weakness such as the infamous, “I’m a perfectionist and work too hard.”  Instead use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your self-awareness. Your interviewer may even be aware of some of your weaknesses if he/she has seen your application.  An interviewer is always happy to see that you are a mature and honest person who can reflect on where you’d like to make a change whether it’s academic deficiencies or personal habits. Then you can point out how you hope to address these weaknesses while at business school and what you are doing now. Show that you are ready to hit the ground running by mentioning specific programs and classes or specifying how that school’s academic and social environment will help you.

So follow Asiangal’s lead and think carefully about your real strengths and weaknesses before your interview.  Write out your thoughts and practice them so that you are comfortable discussing yourself.  Then you can show the interviewer that you know yourself well enough to truly take advantage of business school.

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