Reflection Toolkit

Strengths and weaknesses

Increasing your self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.

Identifying your strengths and weaknesses can be extremely valuable. Not only will it allow you to approach tasks and challenges with a better understanding of how to succeed and what pitfalls to look out for, but it also allows you to effectively communicate what you can contribute, which is essential for things like job interviews.


How to identify strengths and weaknesses

For all approaches it can be helpful to set aside a period of undisturbed time where you are fully focused on the task and really probe, for example 20-30 minutes. Three different approaches are described below – see what you find helpful, add your own, or mix and match them together!

Asking yourself targeted questions

Direct questioning process Indirect questioning process
  • What is one of my strengths/weaknesses?
  • How do I know?
  • What does it look like in practice? (For example, if a strength is being organised/conscientious, maybe you make lists, keep your desk clean, are always on time, or never miss a deadline.)
  • What other strengths/weaknesses may contribute to those behaviours? (For example, the behaviour ‘never missing a deadline’ could come both from being organised and being dedicated.)


Repeat this process for as many strengths and weaknesses as you can think of. It might be helpful to find a list online of common strengths and weaknesses to give you inspiration.

Here are just a few questions to give you an idea – you can likely find many more that are helpful.


  • What have others complimented me about? What does that suggest are some of my strengths?
  • What have others had to help me with on multiple occasions? Does that tell me anything about any weaknesses I may have?
  • What projects/tasks give me, or drain my, energy? Does the type of activity help inform me about my strengths or weaknesses?

Analysing experiences

This approach works for finding both strengths and weaknesses, the only difference is the type of experience you look at. First, identify an experience that turned out/went really well (for strengths) or poorly (for weaknesses). This could be supporting a friend, or a teamwork experience that didn’t go as you hoped.

  • Ask yourself what skills/strengths made you capable of succeeding or what weaknesses may have contributed to an unsuccessful experience.
  • Ask yourself what else could have contributed, until you cannot find anymore.
  • Repeat for as many experiences as you like.

In reality this method can be used to identify many implicit aspects of ourselves – the only difference is asking ourselves ‘What [value/assumption/etc] may have contributed to the outcome of the situation or our actions?’

Asking others

Once you have an idea of your own strengths and weaknesses, or to get you started if you find it challenging, you can ask a critical friend (see ‘Reflection with others’) to suggest what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. Remember to reflect on what they say to see if you agree – it is just their opinion and experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are right.  If you don’t agree, it is useful to think about why they might experience you in that way.

Reflecting with others (within Reflectors’ Toolkit)


Back to ‘Reflecting for self-awareness’