What Are Your Greatest Strengths? How To Nail This Question!
As you go into your first round of the interview process, you will more than likely be asked, “What are your greatest strengths?” What is the interviewer looking for with this question, and what is the best way to answer? Let’s look at some ways that you can answer this question and impress the interviewer.
The interviewer wants to know why you are the right person for the job. You need to focus on your strengths and qualities that directly match or relate to the position. To find out what skills and strengths you must have, read the job description. There is always a lot of information that can be extracted from it. Additionally, go through the company’s website and read some of its blog postings. Learn what you can about it. What types of skills would a successful candidate need at this company and why? Let’s look at a job description and find out what skills we should have and how we can connect our strengths and skills to them.
Job Description Example 1 – Trainee
• Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree in business or other related field.
• Excellent customer service skills. Drive to increase customer satisfaction.
• Proven knowledge of MS Word and Excel
• Excellent written and verbal communication. Ability to communicate in front of groups.
• Must be self-starter, resourceful, creative, organized, detail oriented, and committed to excellence.
• Must have willingness to listen and learn, be patient, and be able to work in a team environment.
Although this is just part of an actual job description, we are focusing on the main part here, the qualifications that you must have. With these qualifications, we can extract certain skills and qualities needed and match them with our own. In the description it mentions that you should have excellent customer service skills. Is this one of your strengths? If yes, could you think of a way to explain why you excel at customer service. Another qualification is self-starter. Does this match your profile? Is this a strength of yours? If yes, explain to me why you are a self-starter. Can you think of a short story that illustrates this?
Job Description Example 2 – Business Analyst
Once again, here is an actual excerpt of a job description.
• Customer service experience – highly desired
• Advanced Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint, Excel)
• Must be technologically savvy and willing to learn new things
• Problem solving skills
• High level attention to details
• Strong communication skills (oral and written)
• Highly organized
• Time management skills
• Ability to work under pressure
• Takes pride and ownership in one’s work.
• Interested in innovation and new ways to do business
• Bachelor’s Degree – preferable
This is part of a job description that lists certain skills and qualities that you should have to be a good fit. How do your skills and qualities match? Are any of these strengths of yours? Can you think of a story to reinforce why it is a strength?
Good Examples – Things You Should Say
After you have read the job description, browsed the website, and gotten a better understanding of the skills necessary for the position, you can answer with success. Let’s take an example of a Brand Analyst of JR Marketer and present our strengths: “I have experience working with SEO and have taken a course in Google Analytics.” This is a good answer because these are skills that you will probably need for the job; they’ll add value to the position.
Let’s say that the job description is looking for someone who is a self-starter, has a go-getter attitude, and is dependable You can mention these qualities in your answer. If you do decide to use these, make sure to back up your answer. Tell the interviewer why you consider yourself a self-starter. What have you done that makes you a self-starter. It is one thing just to say, “One of my qualities is that I am a self-starter.” It is much better if you say,
“One of my strengths is that I am a self-starter. Whenever I want to learn something new, I watch multiple educational videos on Youtube, read through forums, threads, and read through lots of blogs. With these resources, I am able to gather enough information and get my bearings on how to do something.”
With this answer, you not only stated you were a self-starter, but also gave concrete evidence on why you are one.
Bad Examples – What Not To Say
Don’t talk about a quality or strength that has no relation to the job. If you are interviewing for a Brand Analyst or Jr Marketer position, don’t say that you are a fast runner or a top chef. These answers would best fit the question, “What are your hobbies?” What happens here is, your answer did not relate to the job description. What do a top chef, runner, and a JR Marketer have in common? Probably not much.
List Out Possible Skills – Strengths Example
Besides the skills that you saw in the partial job descriptions above, try to think of other skills that may be related to the job and ones you can use to answer the question “What are your greatest strengths?” Here are a few that would probably go with the JR Marketer position: great customer service skills; reliable; responsible; strong people skills; willingness to learn; team player; organized; focused; good time management. These are just a few skills and strengths that you might be able to use when trying to answer this question. One suggestion is to always have a few skills up your sleeve; in other words, ones you always remember that you are good at. Once you read the job description, decide if these skills and strengths are applicable.
When answering this question, be succinct. No need to give a 5-minute answer. Max 1-2 minutes. You don’t need to tell your life’s story here. Just name 2-3, maybe 4 strengths and quickly explain why these are your strengths. Try your best to give concrete examples or stories. Remember, pick the most relevant skills and strengths for the position. They must be pertinent to the position.
Before we wrap up this article on “What are your greatest strengths?”, I want to leave you with a short and effective activity.
1. Think of 3-5 strengths, qualities, and skills needed for a position. Pick a random position, yet one that is at your current career level, most likely entry level. Create a few examples of stories of how these are your strengths. Think about some of your achievements at school, in sports, or even awards you have received. Did you solve any problems, create a better process, launch something new? Practice, practice, practice. Get in front of the mirror and deliver your answers to this question. How do you feel?
2. Sometimes, job descriptions don’t exactly give us the best idea of the skills needed. They can be vague. Or sometimes we are unaware of what our strengths really are. This is where it is great to collect feedback from friends and family. Put them in the picture. Tell them you are currently trying to get a job and you know that one of the interview questions might be is “What are your greatest strengths?” In your opinion, what are 3-5 strengths of mine? It is helpful to get other peoples’ feedback!
3. This question can sometimes be asked with “What is your greatest weakness?” or even in a few other different ways: What are your strengths? ; What is your greatest strength? ; Give me an example of a strength of yours. ; Give me an example of a strength and weakness.
The interview process can be daunting and can present you with a lot of new things to think about. My goal with this series is to help demystify the process and make your job easier: prepare you for interviews, build your confidence, and get you that position!
Have you been asked this question, “What are your greatest strengths?” Please share your experience in the comments section below so the community can learn from you.