How to Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses (Part IV-VI)

Part 4 of 6: Listing Your Desires

1. Ask yourself about your desires. Your desires or longings say a lot about you, even if you've been

spending a lot of time denying them. Consider why you want to complete those activities or goals and what it

will take to reach them. Chances are, these are your passions and dreams in life, which are typically areas of

great strength. Many people fall into the trap of doing what their families want and becoming a doctor or lawyer

when they'd rather have been a ballet dancer or a mountain trekker instead. In a different section of your journal,

write down your desires or life's longings.

2. Decide what you enjoy. Begin to ask yourself about the things you most enjoy in life. Write down the

answers to the question, "What types of activities do I find satisfying or appealing?" For some people, sitting by

the fire with their Labrador retriever by their sides is extremely satisfying. For others, they’d rather be rock

climbing or taking a road trip.

3. Consider what motivates you. Along with your desires, you need to decide what keeps you motivated

in life. In your journal, write down your answers to the question, "When do I feel energized and motivated?"

Consider times in your life when you feel ready to take the world on by storm or inspired to go to the next level.

The areas that inspire and motivate you are typically where you are strongest.

Part 5 of 6: Assessing Your Strengths and Weaknesses           

1. Rethink your weaknesses. "Weakness" isn't the most helpful way to think about areas for develop

ment. In reality, people really aren’t weak, even though we might really feel or think this way at times. However,

most people feel that they could be stronger in certain areas in their lives, their skill sets, and other areas. Since

they feel they are not as strong in those areas, it’s common to assign the opposite to describe when we feel we

need to work on an area to feel stronger and competent. Instead of focusing on "weakness," which has a

negative feel to it, think about your areas for growth or improvement -- this keeps you focused on the future and

what you can do to get better.

2. Identify your areas for growth. Areas in which you can develop might be related to anything,

including certain professional or social skills or poor self-restraint with food. You could also simply refer to an

inability to catch a baseball or perform math equations quickly. Oftentimes, areas for growth are framed in terms

of "learning lessons from life" and not repeating mistakes. Other times, it's about making the effort to overcome

a lack of skills you perceive in yourself.

3. Focus on your strengths. Some might consider focusing on personal weaknesses at all as waste

of time, or even a mis-framing of the issues. Instead, focus primarily on your strengths and try to cultivate these

whenever possible. This can be a better approach then identifying personal weaknesses. Since what people

typically refer to as weaknesses are often simply related to a lack of interest or desire to improve, it might be

best for you to focus most on your personal strengths and desires and go from there. Be generous when you

are acknowledging your strengths, because you most likely have plenty, even in areas where you feel “weak.”

Then zero in on areas where you feel you can be more efficient.

4. Write down your strengths and weaknesses. Once you assess all you've written down about your

actions and desires, it's time to focus on what you think your strengths and weaknesses are. Using the lists from

other people you got earlier and that you have learned about yourself through the other exercises, write down

areas of your work and life that you think are your strong and weak areas. Focus on how you currently see your

own strengths and weaknesses based on what you're doing in your life right now, both personal and professional,

rather than looking to the past or to your desires.

5. Compare the lists against one another. Did they match up and did you find any surprises? Did

you think you were strong in one area but in your actions list that doesn’t appear to be the case? This type of

mismatch occurs when you're telling yourself you're one way, but a challenging situation displays your real

character instead.

6. Consider any surprises or mismatches. Look at the different lists you've made. Look for any

surprises or places that don't match up. Reflect on why you think that some of the qualities and weaknesses

you've spotted have turned out to be different. Is it possible that you think you enjoy certain things or that you're

motivated by certain things, but in actuality you can't or you aren’t? These lists will help you see that.

7. Ask the opinions of friends or family. Have a close friend or family member provide you with

constructive feedback. Although self-examination can lead you to a few answers, getting an outside opinion will

help you either solidify your observations or can shatter a few illusions as well. Learning how to receive

constructive feedback from others is essential to being part of a community. It is important not to get defensive,

or take it as a personal attack, simply because someone suggests an area of improvement. Learning to

incorporate constructive feedback from others into your everyday life can be a strength in itself.

8. Seek professional assistance. If you are still having trouble, or would feel more comfortable with

an outside source, ask a professional to help you to determine your strengths and weaknesses. There are

companies that can help with psychological profiling, which are often attached to recruiting agencies.

9. Reflect on your findings. After you assess your strengths and weaknesses, spend some time to

reflect and determine how you feel about what you found. Decide if you need or want to work on any of your

weaknesses and contemplate what you will need to do to attack or change these weaknesses.

10. Reject perfectionism. Take care not to become hung up on your weaknesses. This pattern can

quickly fall into the no constructive pattern of perfectionism, which can actually hold you back from success.

It’s better to begin with what you do well for a given skill set, then find several details to enhance those skills

and slowly improve over time.

11. Don't deny important moments in your life. Everyone has things in their life that they excel at.

There are times when you do something you've never done before, but it just clicks and you find that you're

a total natural at it.

Part 6 of 6: Using the Skills in Interviews

1. Consider the relevancy of your strengths and weaknesses. You can use all you've learned

about yourself to help you in job interviews. Think about how your strengths and weaknesses are relevant

to the particular job you are applying for. In order to prepare, think about what tasks might be required for

the job you are applying for, and consider all of the times throughout your life when you were faced with

similar tasks. Which personal attributes seemed like they’d be either strengths or weaknesses while you

were involved in these tasks?

2. Exhibit honesty and confidence. When you're asked about these characteristics in an interview,

be honest when describing your strengths. When interviewers ask you about your strengths and weaknesses,

they aren’t merely curious about your skills but also want to know how competent you are at talking about

yourself. Social skills and an ability to market yourself is quickly becoming one of the most important set of

skills for most jobs in the workforce. For an interviewer, this begins with how well the interviewee is able to

describe his or her strengths and weaknesses, and how comfortable they appear doing so.

3. Practice interviewing skills. In order to become more comfortable with this, practice interviewing

with someone else. Ask a friend to interview you and practice describing yourself to her. Do this as many

times, with as many people, until you start to feel more comfortable describing your strengths and weaknesses

to them. At first it might seem like reading a script, but after a while it should start to feel more and more


4. Do not try to "spin." Potential employers are not stupid, and can see right through this cliche

attempt. They sometimes interview hundreds of people for a position, and everyone's first instinct is to use

what they believe is a strength and spin it as a weakness.
 However, what you see as "strengths" may not

seem that way to employers, who are often looking for employees who value things like flexibility and


5. Be honest about weaknesses. When the interviewer asks you a question about your weak

-nesses, be honest. There wouldn't be any point in asking the question if all you gave the interviewer was

some canned response about how awesome you are. The interviewer isn't looking for that. She is looking

for a real discussion of things you can work on, a signpost of insight about yourself. 

6. Acknowledge the bad parts of your challenges. There are certain parts of these weaknesses

that you need to address and speak about how they could affect your performance. It can be quite impressive

to talk about how your challenge has affected or could potentially affect your work performance. It shows

insight and truthfulness, although you still need to be tactful about what you say.

7. Show the interviewer how you strive to overcome your challenges. Again, being practical here

is better than being idealistic. Giving the idealistic response could seem unrealistic and make you seen like

you are trying to talk yourself up.

8. Talk about your strengths confidently. You should sound self-assured, but not cocky. Try to be

confident while still staying humble about your achievements and skills. Of course, try to truthfully pick

strengths that could be in line with the individual, business, or organization to which you are applying. 

9. Provide examples when talking about a strength. It's all well and good to say that you have

amazing people skills, but it's another thing to show it. Illustrate what your strengths look like in real life by

providing examples, either from your personal interactions or from your work history.

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