How to answer interview questions: What Are Your Strengths?
Questions about strengths are commonly asked in job interviews for all levels of positions, in all industries. Regardless of whether you are asked about strengths or not, you should be well aware of your strengths so that you can have the confidence you need and the ability to sell yourself in an interview when required.
Surprisingly, most candidates struggle when asked to talk about their strengths so there is an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd if you can talk about your strengths in an authentic and compelling way.
Why companies ask about your strengths?
Companies ask about your strengths for the following reasons:
- To see if your strengths are relevant to the jobs requirements and the companies needs
- To see your own level of self confidence
- To see if you will be a good team fit
- To see if you have qualities, skills and or experience that set you apart from the competition
What Are Your Strengths – How to choose your strengths?
When thinking about the strengths you would like to talk about in an interview you should:
Be accurate: Choose strengths that you actually possess. Don’t pick strengths that you think the interviewers want to hear. You will be much more convincing and likeable if you are authentic.
Be relevant: You likely have many strengths, but you should look carefully at the job description to see fo them will be most important to mention in the interview.
Be specific: Choose specific strengths in order to avoid being too vague or cliché. For example, rather than saying “strong communication skills” say, “ability to relate to a variety of people” or “strong relationship builder”
Don’t be shy: Some people get embarrassed when they are asked to talk about their strengths. This is particularly true for introverts or people who had haven’t needed to interview before but this is really something that you need to get over if you want to have a chance in the interview. Imagine yourself from the company’s perspective. Would you hire someone who wasn’t able to confidently articulate what they could offer?
Be prepared to demonstrate: You should be prepared to back up every strength with an example. Make sure your examples aren’t too long here. Your answer should be about 1-2 minutes long.
What Are Your Strengths – What to do if I don’t know my own strengths?
If you’re not sure what your strengths are, try these techniques:
Review your resume: Look at your past jobs, education, favourite school subjects, extra- curricular activities, volunteer programs, associations you were part of, hobbies etc. Try to read your resume with fresh eyes as if it was not yours. What stands out?
Get a second opinion: Ask a trusted friend or colleague what they think are your greatest strengths.
Look at your performance: Look at results and achievements throughout your work history. This can range from certificates, promotions, letters or emails with feedback from managers, clients or customers. If you’re a new student or grad think about the feedback that you received from professors and supervisors from past internships or jobs.
What are your strengths? Sample Answer
I am Relationship builder
“I think one of my biggest strengths is as a relationship builder. In my most recent sales positions, I started there on a cold desk with only 3 current clients and grew that to 30 in just over 1 year. I accredit this to my persistence and ability to overcome objections and provide a great service when given an opportunity to work with a client, as well as my consistent follow up to ensure they were always satisfied with our service.”
I am Problem solver
“I think one of my biggest strengths is as a problem solver. Whenever I encounter a problem, I can usually quite quickly come to a solution which is favourable to all parties involved, whether that be a colleague, a customer, myself or the business.” I try and see things from all people’s perspectives and then deliver a solution that may require a little compromise from everyone but always deliver it in a way that shows this to them and then I always show my appreciation for this.
I have great Organisational skills
“One of my biggest strengths would be in my organisational skills and my ability to prioritise and meet deadlines. In my current job, I never know exactly what the day will look like. I might be working on a project and by lunch time, have 2 more on my plate, which could be urgent or not. So, I have really had to learn how to manage my time effectively to get the best results. I decide on the most to the least urgent and estimate a certain amount to each one. This keeps me on task and on time.”
What if they don’t ask me about my strengths?
Not all interviewers will necessarily ask you about your strengths directly. They may ask you indirectly using questions like the ones below which do actually require you to talk about your strengths. If they don’t ask any strength related questions, you should seek an opportunity to bring them up.
- Why should we hire you?
- Why are you the best person for the job?
- What makes you a good fit?
You should be able to communicate your greatest and most relevant interview strengths in any interview. If you aren’t asked directly, look for openings. If they still haven’t asked you by the end of the interview, (once you have asked some intelligent questions) then, take the opportunity to summarise your strengths and reiterate your interest in the position.