Friday, May 3, 2013

What's Your Greatest Strength and Biggest Weakness?

Are you ready for your interview?
I think the toughest thing for me in any job interview is having to talk about myself. I'm pretty comfortable with talking about myself to my own friends and family members. Who isn't? It can be challenging when you're trying to convince someone you don''t know why they should give you the job over someone else. It can be even tougher when trying to convince an interviewer how awesome and skilled you are when you're in the midst of making a career change.

Job interviews are stressful, no matter how you dice it. Half the battle is being prepared. Once you've done your research on the company you're interviewing with and the position you're interviewing for, it's important to think about the types of questions you could be asked during the interview. You don't want to memorize your answers, but you should have an idea on how you would answer certain questions, before the interview.

One of my favorite questions to ask job candidates during an interview is:

What is your greatest strength? What's your greatest weakness?

Your greatest strengths should consist of skills and previous job experiences you have that qualify you for the position you're interviewing for. This is your chance to shine in the interview and tell them how amazing of an employee you are.

Your greatest weaknesses should showcase skills you've improved upon in either your current or previous job. You could also discuss how you managed to turn a negative situation into a positive one. Always focus on the positive during an interview. You want to show the interviewer how you are able to save the day with your positive solutions and forward-focused thinking!

When I went from bartending to working for Sephora, I didn't have any professional beauty industry experience other than my four months in beauty school. My lack of professional experience was a weakness. How was I going to convince this huge corporation that I would be an amazing Beauty Advisor? I made a list of tasks and skill sets that I had acquired from bartending and applied them to the Beauty Advisor position. Turns out I already had a number of strengths from bartending that qualified me to be a Beauty Advisor. I came up with three key areas that I would focus on during my interview: sales, customer service and flexibility.

I knew being a Beauty Advisor would involve sales. I would be paid to talk to clients all day long, answering questions about products and helping them place their order over the phone. No problem! As a bartender, I was responsible for selling drinks all night long. The more drinks I sold, the more tips I'd make. I learned and perfected the art of up-selling a drink to anyone who sat at my bar, which ultimately translated into higher sales in the register and more tips in my tip jar.

Customer Service
Proving my customer service skills was easy. It doesn't matter what industry you're in, customer service is customer service. Being a bartender for eight years, I was in the people business. I learned how to have a conversation with anyone who was drunk or sober. I figured out how to handle sticky situations with intoxicated customers like a pro. My personality helped me build up a repeat clientele in the bars I worked at. My patience level helped me keep my cool when dealing with some of the crazies that would come in every now and then.

Since the Beauty Advisor position was designed to be a seasonal position, I had to be very flexible with my schedule. That meant being able to adapt to whatever start time they might need me to work: 5am, 6am, 7:30am or 11am. It also meant being willing to work weekends and holidays. This wasn't a problem for me. When you bartend, there are no holidays or weekends. There also aren't any sick days or paid vacations. I was already used to not having Saturdays and Sundays off and I almost always had to work on holidays, even Christmas.

Even though I lacked professional experience in the beauty industry, it didn't mean that I wasn't qualified to be a Beauty Advisor. I was able to show the good folks at Sephora that even though I was fresh out of beauty school, my passion for the industry along with my experience as a bartender for the past eight years would make me a great asset to their team. Guess who got the Beauty Advisor position?

Next interview question I like to ask: Why Should We Hire You?


  1. Great inspirational post. Some times not having the exact experience is a job is bonus. Your not tied to old ways of doing things and can bring fresh ideas and perspectives.

    1. I completely agree Parker! Companies are always looking for new talent loaded with fresh ideas.

  2. Great Blog
    Thank You !

  3. Great post very inspirational!