This is a very common interview question. The first part is a slam dunk; the second is a potential landmine unless you are careful. For strengths, keep in mind that every company needs people who can do three things well: (1) earn revenue, (2) save money, and (3) save time. Plug this in, interspersed with some business traits and make the interviewer smile.
For weaknesses, don’t ingest truth serum and tell of your paranoid fantasy to kill your current boss. Avoid admitting to character flaws like the plague. I prefer a “weakness” to be skill-related and past tense: “I wasn’t astute with PowerPoint when I first started, but I read a great book, practiced, and became very proficient; now I train others in PowerPoint presentations.”
You are admitting to something that everyone had trouble with at first. You are not born with computer software skills, so this is not a damaging answer; furthermore, you can show that you are a quick study, able to learn it and then teach it. Any time you can demonstrate how you overcame a weakness, all the better.
Another good “weakness” example is to give a general answer in which you can plug perceived strengths: “I am passionate about my work and always give each task my all. So, when sometimes I see others loafing, I can get frustrated. I have improved by always trying to demonstrate a positive attitude and hope it will catch on,” or “I set lofty goals for myself and am sometimes too demanding of myself.”
Again, you have another chance to mention that you are a goal-setter who raises the bar very high. Not a bad weakness. The trick with discussing your weaknesses is to avoid the landmine answer. Turn your weakness into an actual strength with a throw-away, past-tense skill that you have now learned.
(Excerpted from The Bliss List. Order your copy today at: http://www.yourblisslist.com/)