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How to Talk About Strengths & Weaknesses in an Investment Job Interview

by Kristine Tucker

In a job interview for an investment job, such as investment banking, currency trading or stock brokering, the interviewer might ask about your strengths and weaknesses. This line of questioning is common, so don't let the hiring manager rattle you with the topic. Discussing strengths is easy as long as you focus on job-relevant skills and traits that are meaningful to the job. Talking about weaknesses can be tricky because you want to be honest without jeopardizing your credibility as a strong, qualified candidate.

Sing Your Own Praises

Interviewers often start with the "What are your strengths?" question, so it's a good way to put your best foot forward. Investment bankers and brokers must make well-researched guesses about the economy, current market trends and future financial outcomes. As a result, focus on your strong decision-making skills and experience in the industry. You might say, "My greatest strength is the ability to make good decisions by weighing the risks," or "I can formulate educated estimates about investment opportunities, while keeping the needs of the client in mind."

Real World Stories

When talking about your strengths, use specific examples or success stories that showcase your knowledge and understanding of the market. Investment firms and clients want proof that you can perform under pressure, especially when there is a wide variety of investment opportunities to choose from. You might say, "One of my greatest strengths is the ability to weigh the pros and cons. I have been able to help retired individuals avoid the pitfalls of risky investments," or "My greatest strength is the ability to analyze the market without bias or preconceived ideas. I have helped young professionals set up investment plans that provide financial security, even in fluctuating markets."

Positive Spin on Shortcomings

Steer clear of weaknesses that could affect your job performance or your ability to create a positive work environment. Employers realize that everyone has weaknesses, but they try to avoid job candidates who might breed workplace problems. Avoid weaknesses that are shallow or insincere, such as "My greatest weakness is that I care too much," or "I work too hard at my job." Focus on genuine shortcomings that don't reflect poorly on your work ethic, such as "My greatest weakness is that I tend to double and triple check calculations, even when I trust that my staff have done accurate work," or "I tend to get long-winded when I explain complicated financial information to clients."

Rise to the Occasion

Some employers appreciate workers who have learned to overcome obstacles or weaknesses. As long as the weakness isn't currently a problem, and it doesn't reflect poorly on your character, discuss ways you have addressed it and have come out on top. You might say, "I used to have difficulty organizing client information, but I have learned to maintain an electronic file and a hard-copy file for every client and update their financial information on a weekly basis." Avoid discussing weaknesses related to your interpersonal skills, because those aren't always easy to correct or overcome.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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