How To Answer: What Are Your Greatest Strengths?
You've got something coming up that all job seekers are hoping for, a job interview. Congrats! Before you interview, it's smart to spend a little time preparing for the most frequently asked interview questions. One of the most common interview questions: what are your greatest strengths?
Answering this interview question might feel daunting, but it's a great opportunity to let your skills shine in a focused and meaningful way. Here, we'll talk about the best ways to prepare to discuss your strengths with any interviewer.
Why should you prepare to answer interview questions about your greatest strengths?
Preparing for a job interview is a critical step in getting the job you want. There are certain questions you can almost always expect in a traditional job interview, like “What is your greatest strength?” and “What is your greatest weakness?”
These questions take some thought and preparation. It isn't about the hiring manager giving you a hard time. In reality, they're looking for reasons why you stand out from other candidates, and reasons why you're the best fit for this particular role.
Answering these questions is an excellent opportunity for them to get to know your personality, and for you to illustrate past experiences that have made you the strong candidate you are today.
Ideally, it will serve you well to highlight strengths in your resume before you reach the interview stage. This is a great way to give the employer context about you as you enter into the phase below.
Here's how you can prepare to talk about your greatest strengths in an interview setting
If you think about it, you probably have a lot of attributes you consider to be strengths. But when asked what your greatest strength is, it can be hard to narrow it down to the best answers.
That's where the prep work comes in. Come ready with specific examples and past work experiences to back up your statements. This not only brings your resume to life and lets the interviewer know more about your skills, accomplishments, and personality, but also shows that you took the time to think through your experience and how it would apply to the job requirements of the role or company you're applying for.
Here are a few steps job seekers can take to prepare for when an interviewer asks about your greatest strength:
- Take some time to think. Consider what you think might be your strengths, and write them down. It's okay if it's a long list, or a short one! Think about your personal strengths (things like staying calm under pressure, time management, people skills, or an aptitude for problem solving) as well as skills-based strengths (such as mad spreadsheet skills or organizing events). Not sure how to start identifying your strengths? Use Teal's free Skills Workbook to narrow them down.
Use Teal's Skills Database to identify your current skills and potential skills that you want to acquire. Once you've identified those, enter them into Teal's Skills Identifier.
- Narrow them down. Read through all your skills, especially the transferable skills that relate to specific position, and choose the ones that feel more important to you and could help you make the best impression. Circle your top three to five.
- Add context. Reflect on those top three to five skills you chose, and take a few minutes to think about some examples where you showed those skills in a work scenario at your last job. Add some concrete examples you can share to show how you used that skill in real life. We recommend using the STAR method: Highlight a Situation, Task, Action, and Result. The STAR method provides a memorable framework for answering interview questions about how you handled certain situations in the past.
- Practice. Be ready to talk about your top skills. Having three to five at the top of your mind (and examples for each) will give you the chance to tailor your answer for the job opportunity at hand.
Within Teal's Job Application Tracker are tips and resources to help you practice interviewing.
- Do your research. Tailor your response to the company and/or job requirements of the role you're applying to. Using your Teal Job Application Tracker, identify the keywords that are most important to this particular position. Does the job require strong marketing strategy skills? Experience with a certain software? Use those hard (technical skills) and soft skills (transferable skills) to help guide your response to show how your skills would be an excellent fit for a specific job.
You can keep track of the research you conduct in Teal’s Job Application Tracker. Tips and guidance are offered of where and how to conduct research. You can also log the research completed on any contacts you have made at the company.
When sitting in an interview, the goal is to walk the line between boastfulness and modesty. Don't overtly brag, but do share your achievements and stories that highlight your talent and even your growth over time. A few tips for this:
- Be honest. Show self awareness and don't exaggerate your skills or your experience; this will only come back to bite you. Be honest and sincere about your job performance and core competencies.
- Connect the dots. Find connection points between your strengths and the job description. When you can put your strengths in context of the job you're applying for, you're more likely to stand out in a hiring manager's mind.
Use Teal's AI Resume Builder to quickly compare the skills and keywords in the job posting to those in your resume. Make sure to add any relevant experience to your customized resume and to your interview answers.
- Be concise. When sharing examples or anecdotes about your strengths, keep your explanations short and sweet. No need to rattle on and on; get to the point in a clear way, and leave space for questions from the interviewer(s).
- Keep it professional. Don't stray too far into your personal life. Leave out the details about how fun you are at parties, or how many chicken wings you can devour in one sitting. These details don't belong in your answers or in an interview setting.
What are some good strengths to mention during a job interview?
If you're having a hard time figuring out your strengths, consider these suggestions as a starting point, or refer to Teal's free Skills Workbook:
- Flexibility. In today's work environment, employees are often spread thin. Hiring managers want to find a candidate that has flexibility when it comes to shifting priorities or changing goals. Employers appreciate candidates who demonstrate cooperative and adaptable mindsets rather than stubborn rigidity. You might show this on your resume with a line about how you dealt with change in a past position.
- Problem solving. Every job requires a form of problem-solving and it's a great strength to mention during a job interview. Mention a past role where you were in a difficult situation and were able to solve problems and make a positive impact.
- Collaboration. Working well with others is a critical strength, and something a hiring manager will no doubt consider before making a hire. Talk about past teams you've worked on, and how your collaboration and communication skills, detail oriented approach, and strong work ethic made tasks go more smoothly.
- Creativity. If you're proud of your creativity, bring this up as a strength. Examples of utilizing your creativity can include designing presentations, handling difficult customers, and reworking outdated processes. If you can, speak about past projects where your creative approach made an impact on the company.
Another thing we recommend that you do before you go into the interview is to do a little bit of introspection and self-awareness work on your work style by taking Teal's Teal’s Work Style Assessment. This is a quick self assessment to help you build your confidence in your career journey.
Example answers to the interview question, “what are your greatest strengths?”
Ready for some sample answers of what to say in an interview when asked about your greatest strengths? Here are some examples for how to answer:
Example 1 - Pick a character-based strength
“I'm a motivated problem solver. I'm not afraid of sitting down either independently or collaboratively with a team to find solutions to complex problems. In my last position, I helped lay out a progress plan for a struggling department, which ended up hitting their annual sales goals by Q3.”
Example 2 - Choose a skills-based strength directly related to the job at hand
“I have excellent writing skills. As a freelance journalist, I have written for a variety of print and digital publications, so I know how to tell a good story while adhering to an editorial style guide. In my past content marketing roles, I've honed my ability to write clear, concise content for web pages, email communications and case studies.”
Example 3 - Be specific about a technology-based skill
“I've worked with Shopify for five years. I am intimately familiar with how the platform runs and have even figured out some workarounds that impressed my previous employer. I know this is a requirement of the job, and it's a skill I'm confident I can bring to the table.”
Example 4 - Don't discount your education or internships
“My background as a communications major has helped prepare me for this role. While earning my degree, I was able to jump right into the industry with an internship drafting press releases and researching press contacts for a well-reputed local firm. My supervisors commented on my strong communication skills. I even have experience giving presentations to clients.”
Don't forget about your greatest weaknesses
When preparing to answer interview questions about your greatest strengths, don't forget to also talk about your weaknesses (although, we prefer to call them “opportunities!”).
Be prepared to talk about your greatest challenges or growth opportunities based on your work experience so far. Prepare an answer that is honest and true, but also has a positive side to it. For example, you might talk about how you used to struggle with Microsoft Excel, but by taking extra training seminars and working with your supervisor, you've gained more confidence and capabilities and have seen solid improvement in your performance.
Don't let talking about a challenge or growth opportunity put you into a negative headspace. Use appropriate body language to help the interviewer understand that you are a hard worker and can overcome challenges.
Utilizing feedback to address your strengths and weaknesses
Answering questions about yourself during job interviews, whether positively or negatively, can be a bit uncomfortable at times. You don't want to come off as pompous and braggy, and on the other hand, you don't want to appear self deprecating and lacking confidence in yourself and your abilities. Teal has a tool allowing you to receive feedback from others to help you better understand all you have to offer.
If you don't have any formal, documented feedback to review, consider asking other people for their viewpoints on your skills using the Work Styles 360 Assessment. Current and former co workers, friends, and even family can all help you get a more realistic grasp on your key strengths and what you offer.
When it comes to answering interview questions, strengths and weaknesses present an opportunity to shine
Talking about yourself isn't always easy. Try to remember that the question offers an opportunity to share what makes you a great fit for the role, with examples from your real-life experiences. The best answer is typically one you have prepared. You may meet with more than one person and chances are that at least one of the team members will ask you a question about your strengths. Your response should highlight the qualifications and attributes that make you a star candidate and hopefully land you that job offer.
Plan to put some time and effort into preparing your interview answers, and you'll know you presented yourself in the best light.
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