There are some job interview questions that you should just always prepare an answer for. Every interview is different, yes, but the goal is always the same. You’re there to show that you’re the right fit for the job. Your interviewer is there to find out if that’s true.
So, if the aim is to let them know you have what it takes to excel in the role, you need to be able to prove it. What are your strengths? is a question you must be ready to tackle in an interview. But in order to seal the deal, you need to answer it well.
The meaning behind What are your strengths?
Nothing in an interview is as straightforward as it may seem. Every single question you are asked has some deeper significance in the interviewer’s eyes. Bearing this in mind, if you are asked to talk about your strengths and weaknesses, you will need to be clever with your answer.
This isn’t just an innocent question to help the interviewer learn about you. They want to see how you sell yourself, how you think you will fit in with the business and why you’re the best candidate for the position.
Variation on a theme
As every interview will vary in some way, it’s fair to assume that you will be asked differing questions at each one you attend. This means that you may not be directly asked about your strengths but the question is likely to come in another guise. Alternatively, you may be asked to give a set number of personal strengths or to discuss your greatest strength. So, it’s essential to have an answer that will blow them away up your sleeve!
The recipe for success
The importance of tailoring your responses to the role and business in question is undeniable. Recycling the same old, generic interview responses in every single interview is unlikely to yield results. To really make a lasting impact during a job interview, don’t just talk about what a great employee you are, but leave no room for doubt about your suitability for that role specifically.
To enable you to do this, research and preparation are your best friends. Here’s a quick rundown of how to get ready to answer What are your strengths? in an interview.
- Research – Look into the company’s history, culture, the morals/mission and any facts and figures you can find about the business.
- Refer to the job description – What type of person are they looking for? What kind of personality, experience and skills are necessary?
- Identify your strengths – Think about what you bring to the table, and make a list of your skills.
- Compare – What strengths have you listed that tie in with the company and the role you are applying for? These are the strengths that you want to showcase during your interview.
Strengths you may have
Here are some examples of strengths that you may want to include in your initial list (if you have them):
- Communication skills
- Writing skills
- Customer service
- Attention to detail
- Influencing others
- Working in a team
- Using your initiative
How to answer What are your strengths?
So, next it’s time to talk about the PERFECT answer to this question. Ah – did we trick you? Since you should be tailoring your response to the particular job you’re interviewing for, there isn’t one surefire way to answer this question! However, there is a simple pattern you can follow when talking about your strengths.
Strength + Explanation + Evidence
Yes, it’s really that simple. Obviously, you want to put your own twist on it and inject your personality. However, if you follow this structure when outlining each of your relevant strengths, your answer will tick some important boxes. This is because you need to be able to back up your claims rather than just blowing your own trumpet.
Example strength: Adaptability
“I would say that one of my greatest strengths is that I am extremely adaptable. I am able to deal with change and highly pressurised situations by remaining calm, altering my approach as necessary and maintaining my focus. At my current workplace, the Head Office introduced a brand-new system that changed every major process we had in place. It was a huge change and a massive upheaval for my team members. However, I was able to remain positive, adapt to this quickly and I even volunteered to help re-train my colleagues.”
What to avoid
To prevent putting off your interviewer (or boring them senseless), there are some common pitfalls to avoid.
- A long list of strengths with no explanation or examples
- Discussing irrelevant strengths
- Being too arrogant
- Losing your focus
- Using generic answers e.g. being a hard worker
- Being too modest
Following this guide will help you to provide an impressive answer to this common interview question. Remember, that tailored answers and providing evidence are your secret weapons.
Let us know how you get on in the comments section below!