Answering the 5 strengths and weaknesses question in a finance job interview

Posted by Fed Finance Canada in Our employment advice
Posted at 26/01/2023
Answering the 5 strengths and weaknesses question in a finance job interview
When applying for a job, it is important to present yourself in the best light during the interview.

To do this, you need to recognize your own shortcomings and address them in a professional manner. Here are five strengths and five weaknesses commonly mentioned in job interviews and how to deal with them effectively!

Citing good strengths and weaknesses in an interview

The key to a successful job interview is not to list the qualities and flaws given in online examples, since these do not necessarily match your personality.

To make sure you are answering the questions in a way that accurately represents your own character, consider the following elements.

Who you really are

In reality, when a recruiter asks you about your 5 strengths and 5 weaknesses, they are looking for specific answers. How well do you really know yourself? What you say will show them whether or not you are perceptive enough to evaluate yourself. Of course, their goal is also to find out if your personality will fit with the team already in place and if you are the right person to handle the job.

But remember, the goal is not to create a personality out of thin air. Be authentic. Otherwise, by hiding your true self, everyone will lose out. To start, take a pen and paper and make a list of everything you know about yourself based on your professional experience.

The job offer

When a job offer is posted, it usually includes a brief list of the qualities the organization is looking for in the candidate. Can you honestly say you have them? If so, write them down and list concrete cases from your professional life where you used them.

What if you don't see anything in the ad that exactly matches your abilities? You may still have qualities that are similar and that would be of interest to the recruiter. Remember to refer to the ad when you are preparing for the interview, as it contains essential clues as to what the recruiter is looking for.

The employer’s expectations

During the interview, the recruiter may offer new information about the company and their ethics, or the position and its responsibilities.

If, on the spur of the moment, you think of a characteristic you have that would better fit the position than the one you had planned to mention, don't hesitate to adjust what you say. Flexibility is another great quality, so go ahead!

But remember to be consistent: add your soft skills to your CV and to your LinkedIn profile if you have one. The recruiter will probably refer to at least one of the two before or during the interview.

The difference between a strength and a skill

A final word of caution: don't confuse your skills with your strengths!

A strength is a positive personal characteristic, like determination or empathy. A skill, on the other hand, is a specific ability such as knowing how to use a computer program or speaking a foreign language.

In general, strengths are more related to a person's personality or attitude, while skills are more related to acquired knowledge or abilities.

5 strengths to mention in an interview

Are you still not sure which strengths to mention in an interview? Our finance recruitment agency has prepared a list of 5 strengths and weaknesses that are always appropriate to talk about! And we know our stuff, since we're recruiters. 😊

Keep in mind that it's important not to just list your strengths during an interview, but also to bring attention to them and describe yourself. We'll give you a few ideas of how to do this for each of the good qualities listed below.

1. Being organized

If you are an organized person, show employers how you manage your time and tasks effectively to maximize productivity. Being organized reduces stress and allows you to make fewer mistakes, since you always have a clear overview of your responsibilities and can plan future tasks efficiently.

By being organized, you facilitate communication and collaboration with colleagues, as you always know where information and documents are located. Being organized allows you to convey a positive professional image and show that you are able to manage your responsibilities with ease.

2. Being proactive

Employers often look for employees who take initiative and look for ways to make improvements. Someone who is proactive is a team player who doesn't wait for a problem to arise before taking action. Being proactive is important because it shows that you are responsible and dedicated, looking for ways to improve things and capable of making decisions.

Here are some examples of being proactive at work:

  • Anticipating the company’s or customers’ needs and responding before being asked
  • Taking the initiative to propose ideas for improving processes or solving problems
  • Identifying risks and taking action
  • Making decisions quickly and efficiently, on your own

In short, a proactive employee wants to contribute to the improvement of the company by making decisions and taking initiative to achieve goals.

3. Being a good communicator

The ability to communicate effectively is crucial in almost every job, whether you’re interacting with co-workers, customers or superiors. Effective communication is an important quality in the workplace because it facilitates collaboration and coordination among employees, resolves problems quickly and efficiently, avoids misunderstandings and conflicts, and maintains a good relationship with customers and business partners.

It also plays a significant role in decision making. To emphasize this strength, feel free to give examples of past experiences where you have had to demonstrate or develop your communication skills.

4. Being flexible

Employers value employees who can adapt easily to last-minute changes and who can work effectively in unpredictable environments. Mentioning this quality in an interview shows an employer that you can adapt to changing work situations and business needs.

Flexible employees are also more likely to be effective leaders and be able to handle crisis situations effectively. Being flexible at work can also improve productivity, the quality of the work done and overall employee satisfaction.

5. Being passionate

Employers like employees who have passion for their work and are determined to succeed.

Being passionate about your work means that you:

  • Are involved and motivated, driven to give your best and achieve better and better results
  • Have a strong work ethic and will adhere to the company's standards and values
  • Generate innovative and creative ideas that can bring new perspectives and improve work processes for the whole team.

5 weaknesses to mention in an interview

First of all, resist the temptation to cite imaginary weaknesses in an attempt to avoid being truthful. It never pays to give your potential employer an inaccurate depiction of your character or abilities.

The recruiter will ask you about your weaknesses to get to know you better and to see if you can compensate for your weaknesses with concrete actions. So, analyze your shortcomings but above all explain what you are doing to address them. You won’t sabotage yourself by showing that you have good self-awareness!

1. Lack of self-confidence

A lack of self-confidence can make you hesitate to make important decisions. If you lack confidence, explain how you are working to overcome this, such as setting achievable goals, constantly training yourself and surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people.

2. Being sensitive

Being sensitive may make you struggle with criticism and may indicate a certain pride that will not appeal to a recruiter. Be sure to explain that there is a positive side to your sensitivity: it pushes you to give your best because you want to be impeccable in your work.

3. Dislike for working under pressure

If you don't like working under pressure, explain how you effectively handle tight deadlines and stressful situations. This will highlight your organized side and your desire to get things done.

4. Lack of experience

If you don't have much experience, explain how you have acquired the necessary skills in other situations, through work or study. Mention that you are determined to learn and grow in the company. Lack of experience can be overcome with time and determination: if you counter it with your determination, explaining that you are reading to make up for this weakness, you will prove your commitment and desire to progress quickly.

5. Dislike for repetitive tasks

If you don't like repetitive tasks, explain how you use your creativity to make them more interesting and what you do to handle that type of work. Emphasize your versatility and the fact that you enjoy rising to the challenge of varied tasks. This may be relevant to a recruiter who sees beyond the job itself and knows how to benefit both of you.

A word about perfectionism

We don't really advise mentioning perfectionism if it's just to make yourself look good (careful, we know all the tricks by now!). Perfectionism can be a flaw if you really have it because it slows you down.

If you have to reread a report a hundred times before sending it, your desire to be perfect can just get in the way. In any case, there are several flaws other than perfectionism that are a little more honest and that you can also present without putting yourself down.

Strengths to emphasize in a finance job interview

There are various abilities and skills that finance recruiters look for in particular.

Let's take a look at 5 specific strengths that you might want to talk about when interviewing for a finance job offer.

  • Pragmatism - Being pragmatic in finance implies that you are able to put aside your feelings and avoid making biased judgments, which is important for portfolio management.
  • Tenacity - Despite facing obstacles, you are able to keep a cool head and do what is needed. Being tenacious is a very positive quality that shows your determination and ability to identify priorities.
  • Thoroughness - This especially important when working with numbers.
  • Diplomacy - Diplomacy is a necessary asset in a potentially stressful industry like finance. It is an extremely useful quality both within teams and when interacting with clients. Diplomacy helps to foster good communication and puts people at ease.
  • Discipline - You know how to set things straight, both on your own and when managing a project or team. The goal is not to assert your authority or make yourself look tough, but rather to highlight your self-imposed rules of conduct and your commitment to the principles that govern a company.

Fed Finance can help you find a job in finance

While the above advice applies to all types of jobs, Fed Finance can specifically help candidates looking for job offers in accounting, payroll or any other area within the finance sector.

Contact us now or submit a spontaneous application. With the help of our consultants and relevant professional resources, we can easily help you refine your application and find a job in finance.