“What are your strengths?” is a classic interview question, it seems simple, but it isn’t.
It requires a balance between not appearing too humble and underselling your achievements or skills, and between selling yourself too much, coming across arrogant and self-interested. This is the main reason why most candidates don’t answer well.
Let’s prepare to this question properly and turn it into a great advantage.
“What are your biggest strengths?” question can also be asked in other similar ways:
What are you good at and how would you apply that to this role?
What do you feel sets you apart from the competition?
What would your colleagues say you bring to a team?
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
The interviewer wants to know how would your strengths translate to the job you’ve applied for.
It is your moment to demonstrate this connection and reassure them in being a strong candidate. Important checklist before we proceed to full examples:
- Analyze yourself and be honest with your answer.
- Choose strengths that you actually possess. Knowing your strengths will serve you well in job interviews and in the rest of your life too.
- Keep it to a couple of strengths, so it will make your preparation easier. It’s about your strengths and not the achievements, make sure you separate them.
- Take a close look at the job description, figure out what the job requires and what is important to the company. The idea is being honest and giving the company what they respond best to.
- Demonstrate your ability to settle into the job faster and perform better than other candidates.
- Don’t raise any red flags! Saying that your greatest strength is the ability to show up on time, for example, would not do you any favours.
Prepare Specific and Detailed Examples:
Giving a detailed example makes your answer powerful. Don’t wait for the interviewer to ask you to elaborate on your strengths. Many times they won’t.
Talk about how you used this strength to achieve a specific result. Be prepared for the follow-up questions like:
How did you use this strength in your previous role?
For example. Here are a few examples some of which can easily be adapted to your profile.
Customer Service related example:
“I feel I am really customer oriented, I am good in interacting with people and helping them solve their doubts or problems, whether it’s in person, on the phone, via email or online messaging. I’ve been an online customer service manager for over 2 years, and I enjoy dealing with people around the whole world. My employer has high standards for customer satisfaction.
My team and I have been trained to defuse angry customers, so they can be helped and, even be satisfied with our services. We are measured on how satisfied people are after they’ve spoken to us, and if they purchase additional products and services as a result of our interactions. I’m proud to say that my team and I are among the leaders of the company.”
Examples of leadership:
“I pride myself on my leadership and my team management skills. My leadership skills had always come natural,
I managed to develop them by supervising junior team members with a guidance of my former manager. Leadership is necessary to keep project teams moving in the right direction.
Finishing projects on-time, on-budget, and meeting both technical and business requirements took substantial planning and management skills. Especially when half of the team members didn’t directly report to me. I’ve been an IT project manager for over 4 years, managing 9 major projects at this time frame.
All those projects are completed on schedule and were considered successes. I also trained 4 team members so they were promoted to project management positions.
“My greatest strength is my diplomacy.
I had never thought of this as a strength until my managers pointed it out to me. Once they did, I realized it’s a skill I
can use to benefit everyone involved on the job.
Recently, I helped to resolve a situation which was about to go very badly. We had a client make so many demands which seemed unreasonable to our team that we were about to finish our collaboration.
Our team and the client were feeling despair over this situation. Through face-to-face meetings that I arranged with all 20 people involved, we were able to re-establish a good relationship and get the project back on track. I was awarded an “Employee of the Year Award” for my efforts to delay the firing and for saving this collaboration.”
I have very strong communication skills.
Whether it is over the phone, in person, or written, I tend to express myself in a clear and concise manner. I received several positive feedbacks from my manager for solving difficult situations with my strong communication skills, and I even got an acknowledgement in the company newsletter for just being really good at talking to clients.
I think this strength will help me to do well on the job of being a receptionist requires interfacing with individuals from different backgrounds. I’ll be able to make each person feel welcome and that their business is valued.
Keep it short and to the point.
Practice a couple of times before the interview to make a stronger impact and to answer with confidence.