What a question!! I literally see my past candidates cringing as I ask this, in addition to the clients I now coach. Everyone seems to have a tough time with this one.
Instead of this being an awkward time during the interview, it can be a refreshingly honest moment when you can truly connect with the interviewer. Here is how you do it.
First: Be honest with yourself. What do you excel at and what do you struggle with? It has to be true and authentic, or an interviewer can sniff it out a mile away.
Second: Match these up against the job you are interviewing for. Are your strengths equal to the job’s core competencies? Are your weaknesses not likely to get you in hot water? If this is honestly the case, you are going in the right direction.
Third: Now, be honest about how your strengths have helped you succeed and come up with about 4 of them. And, when mentioning your weaknesses, include how you are working to improve this.
For example: if your weakness is that you tend to get very scattered during the day because so many priorities are pulling you at the same time, talk about how you write a list of things that must get done in one particular day, and that sometimes, you have to prioritize and reprioritize, but the list helps to keep you on track. That shows me that you are working on it.
It’s this maturity and self-awareness that will make a connection with the interviewer. They will tend to trust that you are telling the truth and that you are a quality person to have in the group. You’re chances of getting the job will no doubt increase.
Good luck to you!