What are your advantages and disadvantages?
This job interview question is another way to get at what your greatest strengths and weaknesses as a candidate are. But in this particular one, they’d like a list of the pros and cons of hiring you. Don’t let it throw you. It is a beautiful thing to be the one in charge of putting together that list (if only during the interview). You can spin this story like a politician and turn it in your favor. Don’t lie. Just focus on the positive.
The truth is that they are probably aware of your advantages and disadvantages. They’ve read your resume. But this is a golden opportunity for you to influence their thinking by addressing any shortcomings in your experience or background while explaining why they don’t matter that much. Or look at it another way, and it’s an opportunity to show them that your disadvantages or weaknesses (every candidate has them because no one’s perfect) aren’t relevant or worth even thinking about because your advantages or strengths are so strong that they’d be crazy to pass you up.
Remember that you are selling yourself for this job. You’re the “product” that’s for sale here. The hiring manager of that company is the customer, and your salary is the cost or the price they will pay for the product. Why are you going to be a great value for them?
Be strategic when answering this question, just as you do for all job interview questions. Answer every question with an eye toward the job description and goals.
Of course, advantages are easy. It’s the disadvantages that are going to trip you up. One strategy I like when talking about your disadvantages is using a strength that you could improve on. Another one is using a weakness that either doesn’t matter for the job or that helps you with the job.
For instance, if I were asked this question, I’d say that my advantages were that I am intelligent, driven, quick-witted, high-energy, and able to communicate at all levels. Those were all great advantages for me when I was in sales, and also happen to be helpful to me as a career coach and business owner. I communicate very well with an enormous variety of people and can quickly evaluate and analyze what a job seeker’s problems are and give them a solution, which saves them time and money.
I would say that my disadvantages are that I’m impatient, I’m not detail-oriented, and I always want to be a leader. (I also don’t respond well to authority, but that’s not something I would say to someone who was going to be my boss!) But all of these things are problems that either help me do my job well or don’t cause me any problems in performance. See, my impatience is something that causes me a problem in my personal life (just ask my husband and kids) but that serves me very well in driving me to achieve quickly at work. When I say I’m not especially detail-oriented, I would also say “and that’s why I take the extra steps of X, Y, and Z to address that issue so I don’t miss anything.” The leadership piece is another thing that sometimes causes me trouble in social situations but is a very desirable quality in my line of work.
You are in charge of how you present yourself as a candidate, and you can tell your own story in a way that shines the most flattering light on you and your candidacy.