Answering the question “What is your greatest strength” in a job interview is a great chance to share your talents and accomplishments to show why you’re a great candidate for the job. Being asked about your greatest strength may sound like an easy question to answer, but for many, it’s tough. Either they are too nervous and modest to talk about themselves or they fail to explain relevant strengths.
By brainstorming personal strengths ahead of time, you can present a truthful, balanced and well thought out answer. Continue reading to see examples of strengths and to learn how to leave an impression when answering “what are your greatest strengths” in your next interview.
- What interviewers mean when they ask you “What are your strengths?”
- How to choose your greatest strength?
- How to answer “what are your strengths” in an interview
- List of strengths
What interviewers mean when they ask you “What are your strengths?”
Typically, when an interviewer asks “what are your greatest strengths” in an interview, they want to know if your strengths align with their company and the job position itself. Your response will help them have a better understanding if you’re the right fit or not. They are also looking to see how you answer the question. There is no doubt that it matters what you say, but they also want to see if you are prepared and if you are confident talking about yourself and your personal strengths. To show you are prepared for the interview, make sure you are discussing strengths that will best qualify you for that specific job. For example, if you are interviewing to be a dental assistant, it’s probably not best to discuss how you are great at event planning.
Interviewers don’t always outright ask you “what are your strengths?” The question can come up in different ways throughout the interview. For example, they may ask “what qualities set you apart from other candidates?” or “what strengths do you bring to this role?” or “what would your previous employer say your best quality is?” Another common one is “what makes you the best candidate for the position?”
How to choose your greatest strength?
Every person interviewing for a job has an abundance of strengths, but that doesn’t mean all of your strengths will apply to the specific job you’re interviewing for. The best way to choose which personal strengths to share is by only focusing on the ones that apply.
So, what is the best way to prepare your answer?
First, make a list of qualifications the job posting asks for and make a list of skills you have that apply to those qualifications. These skills can be soft skills, hard skills, interpersonal skills, or anything else you see fit. Think to yourself, what are your greatest strengths and think about what strengths do you bring to this role specifically?
Narrow your list to three to five skills that you think would be the best to bring up in your interview. Next to each skill, make a note of how you have applied that strength in the past. This can be personal or professional. It’s likely that a professional setting example will be more impressive to the interviewer.
Brainstorming multiple strengths and multiple times you applied those strengths will come in handy you when the interviewer asks you to elaborate.
How to answer “what are your strengths” in an interview
Because we’re all human and we all have many different strong suits, thinking of professional strengths that apply to the job can be overwhelming. We’ve broken it down for you into character and skill-based strengths. If you’re giving multiple strengths, it doesn’t hurt to have a mix of both. Read below to learn more about character-based strengths and skill-based strengths with examples.
Character based strengths may be natural talents you’ve had your whole life or something you’ve developed throughout your career. These strengths can be a number of skills and they’re just as important to an interviewer as skill-based strengths. These types of strengths are soft-skills that include, but are not limited to, problem-solving skills, strong work ethic, and interpersonal communication.
Example of a character-based strength answer:
“One of my greatest strengths is being a people-person. I’ve always had the natural ability of sitting down and talking to anyone and everyone in the room. This is something that has helped me in both my personal and professional life. I really love talking with people and hearing about what’s important to them. Working in a professional groups or on teams has never been a problem for me. When I was promoted to HR Manage for my team, the team was facing a lot of negativity and unhappiness. I was able to sit down and talk with my team and figure out why they were angry and frustrated and addressed the problem right away. Since then, my team has had a lower turnover rate than any other team in the company.”
Skill-based strengths are skills you have learned from technical or educational experience. Skill-based strengths are typically known as hard-skills. For example, using Adobe programs or being able to code. When you provide your skill-based strengths remember to provide specific stories and examples of how your strengths have helped drive the success for another organization. This shows the interviewer you have an understanding of what is required of you in this position.
Example of a skill-based strength answer:
“One of my greatest strengths as a marketing manager is using a variety of design, photo editing, and video software programs. In my last role, I noticed the marketing team wasn’t using branded video and photography to their full potential. Because I had experience with Lightroom and Premiere Pro, I was able to jump in and teach them how to use the programs, edit their photos, and shoot professional style videos. Adding internal video and photo saved the company more than $25,000 per year.
Show, don’t tell
The main thing to keep in mind when answering “what are your greatest strengths” in an interview, is to tell a story. Stories are key and are much more powerful than simply saying “I am a hard worker.” Think about how many interviews a hiring manager goes through. If you simply name your strength and try to move on, they will categorize you with the rest of the candidates. Telling a story will allow you to stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting impression on the hiring manager. Read the examples below to help guide you when writing your own strengths.
Here are some examples of strengths where the answers also include stories:
“Writing is definitely my biggest strength. I love it. I love writing website copy, blog posts, brochures, press releases, and any other type of business communication. I always think to myself, what does the reader want to know about the topic? I’m always thinking from someone else’s perspective and how I can the message across effectively. That’s my biggest strength and my favourite part of the job.”
“I love to solve customer-related problems. At 123 Call Center, I took over an account issue with this angry customer that no one else wanted to deal with. The guy kept pestering us and everyone was frustrated by how difficult he was being. I spent hours on the phone with the angry man and I actually built a great relationship with him. Once we spoke and got to the root of the problem, he was very happy with our services and ended up doubling his order with us.”
“I love re-working current processes to make jobs easier and faster for everyone. I naturally gravitate toward these types of things. I am able to see holes or small flaws in the system where there is room for improvement. At 123 Call Center I re-designed our ordering process and was able to get our reordering turnaround time down from seven business days to three.”
List of strengths
We discussed skill and character based skills above, but there are so many other categories and strengths to explore. Below, we’ve put together an extensive lists of strengths you can use in your next interview.
Almost every position will look for someone with some sort of analytical strength. These skills involve critical thinking and problem solving. Whether it’s asked for or not, most interviewers like to see some sort of analytical strength displayed.
- Open minded
- Logical thinker
- Good judgement
- Assessing the needs of others
Like analytical strengths, communication skills are typically important for all types of work. Whether you are answering phones, dealing with internal issues or delivering pizzas, you will likely need to be able to communicate effectively. In an interview, your communication skills will likely be exemplified in the interview itself. You could hold off as listing a communication strength in the interview since the interviewer should be able to naturally see that you are an appropriate and strong communicator.
- Creating powerful presentations
- Creating concise website copy
- Negotiating with clients
- Verbal communication
- Technical writing
Corporate culture is important. Companies want to know they can depend on their employees. They need to know you will be professional, show up on time and finish your work by the deadlines. When brainstorming dependability strengths, share ones that show how you will be an asset to their team.
- Recover quickly when problems arise
- Time management
When an interviewer asks “what are your strengths” it’s always great to answer with a leadership or teamwork strength of some sort. Most positions require job candidates to be able to work well with others. If you’ve worked on a successful team or if you’ve been a leader, now is a great time to explain success stories backing up your leadership strength.
- Decision making
- Collaborating with others
- Understanding others needs
- Understanding others ideas
- Managing difficult people
- Managing people
- Motivating staff
- Mentoring staff
- Facilitating meetings
- Giving constructive criticism
- Resolving conflict
Information Technology (IT) strengths
It’s very likely that whatever job you are applying to you will need to have basic level computer skills. Only discuss your tech strengths and knowledge that apply to the specific job you are interviewing for. If the job description lists technology and computer skills, this is where you can showcase the related strengths.
- Concise and clear emails
- Driving website traffic
- SEO and keywords
- Website design
- Debugging computer programs
- Graphic Programs
- Presentation tools
- Social media
Use this list to help you construct your own strengths for your next job interview. Remember: show, don’t tell, make sure your strength is related to the job you’re applying for, and come prepared. If you follow these steps and everything else discussed in this article, you will do nothing but impress the interviewer.