How to Answer the Interview Question: What Are Your Strengths?
The most straightforward interview questions sometimes are the most difficult to answer and although you can never fully anticipate the questions you will encounter in your job interview, there are a few classics which include the “What are your strengths?” interview question.
At first glance, this may seem like a question you can answer easily within the blink of an eye. However, it carries a lot of weight and it’s the perfect opportunity to impress the hiring manager and show the value you are bringing to the role.
Though, it’s difficult for so many of us to speak about our strengths during an interview. It is also challenging to balance our humility with the need to project confidence. So in asking what your strengths are the hiring manager wants to know, specifically, what is going to make you excel at this role but if you are not comfortable with self-promotion, talking about your strengths at an interview is going to be hard, especially if blowing your own trumpet isn’t your thing. And apart from finding the thin line between pride and arrogance, you may need to avoid falling back on clichéd answers and overused responses such as ‘I am an excellent communicator,’ or ‘I am a hard worker.’
The hiring manager wants to ascertain how you stand out from other candidates and the real question when they ask: ‘What are your strengths?’ is ‘Do you actually know yourself?’
You have to really know your strengths and weaknesses to survive in this competitive job market. And here’s the catch.
Many people think they know their strengths but the truth is, few people actually provide great answers to this basic interview question.
When a hiring manager asks this question, they’re not looking for a one-word answer. You’ll have to explain why this is really a strength of yours and the way it has benefitted you and your organization in the past.
And as you know your strengths are skills or qualities that help you accomplish challenging tasks.
You have to show the interviewer how these carefully thought-out strengths will solve their problems – by ensuring you dissect the job posting for the needs of the company, focus on the strengths that will ensure your success in this job you want which will also be based on the job’s key requirements, and mapped around your best achievements to date.
You have to remember to go easy on the adjective as you do so.
Once you have taken note of a few of your greatest strengths, give an example of a time you used those strengths and what the result was. How did your skills help your team and ultimately your company?
You would definitely need help thinking about these scenarios, so use the STAR method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
• Situation: Briefly talk about a situation where you used your strengths. This should be clear and concise.
• Task: Outline the task at hand and what exactly you were liable for.
• Action: Highlight what steps you took to make sure the tasks were completed.
• Result: What was the final result of the situation? Talk about your ultimate accomplishment. If you can, look for ways to quantify your success with numbers.
For each strength, you want to talk about, consider a hit story, for instance, the impact you got once you use those skills.
• Did my strength earn the company money?
• Did my strength save the company money?
• Did a supervisor ever pat me on the back because of my strengths?
• Did I ever get an award outside or inside my company?
“What are your strengths” example answers must always include proof.
How to answer the question ‘What are your strengths?’
Sure, it sounds pretty easy, but a lot of individuals struggle with this question. It is challenging often to acknowledge your own best qualities, and it’s essential to reply with strengths that prove you’ll be an excellent fit for the work you’re interviewing for. When you asked this question, it is time to talk about what makes you great and what you’re doing to sustain this strength. Nothing in life is static, after all.
To prepare, make a list of three relevant strengths and support your claims about these strengths using the four A’s:
- Awards: Prizes you have won that showcase your strengths.
- Accolades: Privileges or special honors you got because of your strengths.
- Anecdotes: A story you’ll tell that shows your strengths in action.
- Acknowledgments: Special recognition you have received due to your strengths.
Once the hiring manager asks any variation of the “What are your strengths?” question, highlight the three strengths you’ve got prepared. Then, immediately lend credibility to your response by using at least one of the four A’s. This way, you’re connecting the dots for the hiring manager. Any applicant can list a couple of strengths that relate to the job posting but by adding supporting evidence, you’ll stand out.
Choosing your strength
So, how do you choose the right strengths to outline? You want to choose strengths that:
1. Are related directly to the role for which you’re interviewing.
2. Demonstrate your capacity to settle into the role faster and perform better than other applicants.
3. Can be supported directly with tangible evidence.
Choose strengths that you can demonstrate using any of the four A’s by taking your industry under consideration, doing your research to ascertain what traits or skills are essential for the success of the role, and base your answer around these key qualifications.
Finally, you’ll want to write down each of your chosen strength success stories using the STAR method mentioned earlier.
The STAR method helps you remember the way to mention your accomplishments.:
Situation – you begin by explaining a situation that required you to use a skill or come up with a replacement idea.
Task – then you explain the action that your role required in such a situation.
Action – next, you describe the action that you simply took, that is if it’s different from the specified task, you ought to also explain why you chose a special path.
Result – How did things play out once you acted? It’s best here to input numbers with details because numbers help reinforce the impact that your action had.
Understanding the why behind an interview question can help you formulate the best response also because chances are, when an interviewer asks the “What are your strengths?” interview question, they want to know:
- If your list of strengths matches the job description.
- How your strengths will align with team members.
- Whether you can strike a balance between being overly humble and overly arrogant.
- Your self-reflective ability.
So since this is a common interview question, you might hear different variations of it which are as follows:
- What makes you the best match for this role?
- What would your references say is your strongest quality?
- What sets you apart from other applicants?
- What will you bring to our organization?
- What is your greatest accomplishment?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your biggest strength?
- What strengths are you bringing to our organization?
- What are the three most prominent strengths that you will bring to this position?
- What are your greatest professional strengths?
- What is your greatest accomplishment or the project you are most proud of completing?
- What can you do best in your current position?
- What would your colleagues say is your best area of expertise?
- Tell me about your top three strengths.
- What would your co-workers say is their favorite thing about you?
- What’s a time when you succeeded?
- Describe a challenging work situation. How did you overcome it?
- What makes you the best person for this role?
As you will see, all of these questions are often answered using the methods we’ve discussed earlier. You have to be ready with clear strengths and then back up your answers with examples. If you’re well prepared, you’ll awe your interviewer certainly by giving him or her honest, thoughtful answer that highlights both your self-awareness and professionalism.
Even if you are not asked about your strength specifically, preparing before time for this question may be very valuable, and scripting out your response to this common question will give you a candid yet compelling description of what you can bring to the table and the way you would like to grow in the future.
What Are Some Common Strengths?
Common strengths include teamwork, communication, and time management. If you are not sure about your strengths, ask a number of your friends or colleagues what they see as your best qualities. Refer to any written feedback you’ve received in the past from peers or managers.
While you are at it, here are some samples of strengths you can mention when an interviewer asks about your greatest strengths in an interview:
- Creative thinking
- Task prioritization
- Analytical thinking
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Organizational skills
- Multitasking skills
- Analytical thinking
- Communication skills
- Writing skills
- Detail Oriented
- Customer service
- Work ethic
It’s a good idea to possess a couple of personal strengths tucked up your sleeve because interviewers may ask you to come up with several examples of strengths. That way they can be certain you are not giving memorized answers. And you don’t have to memorize the whole list.
Strengths are work-related skills that you simply have to do the work required.
So, the simplest place to start out is your job offer. Underline or highlight all the qualifications that you clearly see listed and ask yourself a direct question such as—which skills and qualifications are the most important?
You can do three things to find out:
- Have a look at a few other job offers for similar positions and check if any of the skills and qualifications are repeated?
- Look up professionals with the same job titles as yours on LinkedIn and see what they listed as skills and qualifications on their profiles
- Focus on adaptive and soft skills.
As you know, your skills are split into three categories:
- Hard Skills
- Soft Skills
- Adaptive Skills
Hard skills are those skills you need to have for a particular job or role in order for you to be employable.
For example, truck drivers need to know how to drive. Cooks need to know how to cook e.t.c. You cannot go for an interview if you don’t have the hard skills required for the job.
Also, you won’t want to answer the “what are your strengths” question with a hard skill because soft skills are belongings you can use at any job in any industry as they are transferable
A good example from any job offer is superb written language skills or management skills.
Writing may be a desirable skill for nearly any job and if writing is amongst your strengths; you would possibly want to settle on it as a solution for the “what are your strengths” question.
Adaptive skills also are referred to as personal skills. Good examples include persuasion or confidence.
- Analytical thinking
- Flexibility and Adaptability
- Ability to learn fast
- Good people skills
- Willingness to take on responsibility at any time
- Devotion to deadlines
- Ability to work under pressure
If you’re not sure where to start, get a copy of your cv and highlight the hard and soft skills you included.
With that, you do not want to blindly choose which strength to showcase.
You’ll also want to think about the skills that might set you apart from other job applicants.
In summary, some skills are useful across every industry, and to properly answer this dreaded interview question, remember:
- The key to answering the “what are your strengths” question is to tailor it towards your skills
- Choose a strength that fits the skills that you find in the job offer.
- A perfect answer includes a success story and your story needs to show the impact your strength can have on your results.
Focus on your best skills and achievements. Answer with self-awareness and confidence. When you write your script, you’ll need to adjust your strength choices and responses according to your experience and skills keep in mind a few additional tips:
- Don’t list multiple or vague strengths.
- Don’t make jokes.
- Don’t be arrogant or lie about your abilities.
- Don’t be extremely humble and underestimate yourself.
- Be specific in your responses
Though often one among the foremost dreaded interview questions, once you take time to organize a thoughtful response, you’ll create a singular story about who you’re and where you want to go.
It’s also worth noting that interviewers normally pair the strength question with the weakness question, so make sure you prepare for that as well.