How to Answer Interview Questions – What Are Your Advantages and Disadvantages?

What would you say were your advantages or disadvantages as a candidate?

This interview question tries to discover your strengths and weaknesses as a candidate. But really, this is a list of the pros and cons of hiring you.  It’s a great opportunity for you to package yourself as a great candidate by emphasizing your advantages while downplaying your disadvantages.

Remember that you are selling yourself for this job. You are the “product” that’s for sale here, and the hiring manager of the company is your customer; your salary is the cost or the price they will pay for the product. They want to know how you are going to be a great value for them.   

Be strategic when answering this question, just as you are for all job interview questions. Answer the question honestly, with an eye toward the job description and goals, and end on a positive note. 

Of course, advantages are easy. It’s the disadvantages that are going to cause some consternation. One strategy you might want to try when talking about disadvantages is to use a strength that you could improve on.  Another idea is to use 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 are 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. I can also quickly evaluate and analyze what a job seeker’s problems are and give them a solution. This strategy saves them time and money. 

I would then say that my disadvantages are that I’m impatient, I’m not detail-oriented, and I always want to be the leader. I would not admit in an interview that I don’t respond well to authority. You don’t want to admit to something that would be impossible to turn around and prevent you from being offered the position.

Notice that the disadvantages I listed are problems that can be helpful in a job or don’t cause any problems in performance. For me, impatience causes problems in my personal life (just ask my husband and kids) but it serves me very well at work as a driving force helping me to quickly achieve my goals. When I admit that I’m not particularly detail-oriented, I would also add “and that’s why I take the extra steps of X, Y, and Z to address that issue, so I am sure to cover everything.” The leadership piece is another quality that can sometimes cause me trouble in social situations but is a desirable quality in my line of work.

You are in control of how you present yourself at an interview meaning you can tell your story in a way that shines the most flattering light on you and your candidacy. 

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