SWOT Analysis Guide (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 16 June 2022 | Published 29 June 2020

Updated 16 June 2022

Published 29 June 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A SWOT analysis is a way to evaluate Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. You might perform this analysis for a product, team, organisation, leadership or other entities. SWOT analyses are used in many business environments to gain a better understanding of how to plan for the future.

In this article, we will discuss what a SWOT analysis is in further detail, why they are used and how to perform a SWOT analysis. Additionally, we will discuss ways you can use your knowledge of SWOT analyses during the hiring process when you are looking for new jobs.

  1. What is a SWOT analysis?

  2. Why are SWOT analyses used?

  3. How to do a SWOT analysis?

  4. SWOT analysis example

Related: Guide: How To Write a Personal SWOT Analysis

What Is A SWOT Analysis?

A SWOT analysis is a tool you can use both personally and at work to evaluate and make decisions about a particular subject. In this analysis, you will investigate both internal and external factors. Internal factors are positive (strengths) or negative (weaknesses) factors that exist within your organisation and are able to be changed or affected in some way. External factors are positive (opportunities) or negative (threats) factors that exist outside of the subject you are evaluating and cannot necessarily be changed or affected by you or your organisation in any way.

Let us take a closer look at each of these areas.

Related: Your Guide to the Strategic Management Process

Strengths

Your strengths analysis should record internal, positive attributes of the organisation, individual, product or other entity you are evaluating. Some questions you might ask to understand strengths are:

  • What are your positive qualities?

  • What achievements have you made?

  • What helps you accomplish goals?

  • What resources do you have?

  • What are your specialties?

  • What sets you apart from others?

Related: Strength-Based Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Weaknesses

Your weaknesses analysis will capture all internal areas of improvement or vulnerabilities that exist within the subject you are evaluating. Some questions you might ask to understand weaknesses are:

  • Internally, what makes it difficult to achieve goals?

  • What are your areas for improvement?

  • What are you lacking (resources, technology, people, etc.)?

  • What do you need to tackle long-term goals?

Related: Interview Question: What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?

Opportunities

Your opportunities section should list all external opportunities relevant to your subject. Some questions you might ask to understand opportunities are:

  • What products, services or information is popular with your audience?

  • Are there external resources you can use to achieve goals?

  • Can you benefit from any current economic or market trends?

  • What technology will be popular in the near future?

  • How do stakeholders view your brand, product or service?

Threats

Your threats section should include all external threats that could have a negative effect on your subject. Some questions you might ask to understand threats are:

  • Is market health expected to be bad or turbulent?

  • Is your brand, product or service no longer needed?

  • Do competitors have a certain edge over you?

  • How does your audience, industry or market view your company?

  • What could put your business at risk?

  • Are there potential new competitors on the horizon?

Related: Business Plan Format (Plus Definition And Step-By-Step Guide)

Why Are SWOT Analyses Used?

SWOT analyses are used to gain more information about all aspects of an issue, team, individual or other entity. These evaluations are used in many businesses in nearly every industry as well as personally for individuals to assess their progress towards certain goals. Many people use SWOT analysis before they set team or organisation goals to ensure they are working towards appropriate milestones.

These types of evaluations can be used in a variety of situations. Here are several examples for when a SWOT analysis would be beneficial.

  • When deciding on a new hire

  • When designing a new product

  • When reviewing performance of a team or group

  • When reviewing performance of an individual

  • When evaluating an audience or market

  • When analysing a product for improvement

  • When analysing a process for inefficiencies

  • When deciding where or how to focus resources

  • When determining your personal effectiveness in a role

  • When determining your strengths for a new role

How To Do A SWOT Analysis?

Here are essential steps to take to perform a SWOT analysis.

  • Clearly define the subject you are analysing. Whether it is progress towards a specific goal, performance of a team or a particular question about a product or market, clearly define what subject you want to analyse. This will help you gain clearer insights, which will result in a better overall evaluation. Here are some example subjects for analysis:

• January performance of inside sales team
• Personal readiness to acquire an executive assistant job
• Evaluating social media marketing strategy

  • Draw the SWOT framework. To perform the SWOT analysis, create a large box divided into four squares. In the top-right square, you will record strengths. In the top-left square you will record weaknesses. In the bottom-right square, you will record opportunities. In the bottom-left square, you will record threats.

If you are doing a personal SWOT, feel free to draw it on a notepad or work on an online document or spreadsheet. If you are doing a SWOT with a team, it might be helpful to draw the framework on a whiteboard or project the SWOT so everyone is able to see and contribute. You can also forego the framework if you feel it would be easier to simply write them down in order on a document.

  • Work through each square. Take time to work through each square considering internal strengths, internal weaknesses, external opportunities and external threats. If you are doing this exercise with a team, it can be helpful to have everyone participate. This will bring various points of view to help provide a more holistic understanding of the SWOT.

  • Draw conclusions and key takeaways. After completing the square, take time to understand how the recorded information helps inform your analysis. For example, if you are performing a SWOT on a job candidate, does it appear that they are a good fit? Do their positive qualities help fill a major skill set gap at the company? Can their weaknesses or threats be overcome?

After completing the SWOT, it can be helpful to revisit after a certain amount of time. For example, if your SWOT revealed certain weaknesses you are working to improve for a promotion, you might revisit your SWOT after working on those areas. This can help you gain a better understanding of how your work has changed after working towards certain goals.

SWOT Analysis Example

Here is an example of a completed SWOT analysis using one of our examples above. While this example contains only three bullet points per section, you can include as much or as little information as is helpful.

SWOT Analysis: Social Media Marketing Strategy

Strengths

  • New procurement process speeds up output

  • Team dynamic makes collaboration easy

  • Diverse strengths allows many areas of expertise

Weaknesses

  • Many people with similar or overlapping responsibilities

  • Many different team goals

  • Difficult to get market research

Opportunities

  • Platform’s real-time analysis allows for fast strategy changes

  • Audience interested in video content

  • Market trends show certain platforms more popular than others

Threats

  • Main competitor has better brand awareness

  • Other, similar products being introduced to the market

  • Audience attention span increasingly short

Overall, SWOT analyses can be helpful to assess a certain subject. You might be looking to simply gain a better understanding of something or you can also create action items as a result of your SWOT. For example, you might see that there are some internal weaknesses that can easily be fixed. From there, you can create individual or team goals to overcome those weaknesses.

Related:
  • What Is Competitor Analysis? (Plus How To Perform One)
  • Important Decision-Making Skills: Definition And Examples
  • How To Set And Achieve Long-Term Goals (With Examples)

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