How To Answer “What Are Your Strengths” for Job Interview

What Are Your Strengths
Created by CakeResume

Along with “Tell me about yourself”, the “What are your strengths?” interview question is one of the most commonly asked questions, regardless of position and industry. The reason is that through an interview, employers expect to find out if you are a better match for the position than other candidates, and asking you to describe your strengths is the most straightforward way to do so. 

When answering this question, sharing your own strengths for a job could come off as bragging or too modest, if not practiced properly. Therefore, this article shares what strengths to say in an interview, along with some of the best answers for “wWhat is your strength?”, to help you prepare for your next interview.

Why Recruiters Ask “What Are Your Strengths” Interview Question

Interviewers ask this question in job interviews mostly to explore the following 4 things about you.

To know your skills/ability.

Recruiters are most interested in whether what you’re good at matches well with the responsibilities you have to take on if you get the position. Knowing about what you consider to be your greatest strength will allow them to decide whether or not you are more fitting for the role than other interviewees.

To know how you can add value to the company.

If you hear the question “What strengths would you bring to our company?”, it becomes more apparent that they want to know the immediate picture of how you will help the company. Those who can answer this question realistically also show that they are serious about the job, and have thought about the responsibilities and how they can contribute through the applied position. 

To know your communication skills.

How you respond when asked “What are your strengths?” will show whether or not you possess on-the-spot, quick-thinking skills, which will be reflected in your response’s structure and flow. For example, recruiters will see if you answered the question clearly, or whether your response is backed by proof or real examples.

To know your personality.

Interviewers want to know whether you are confident and self-aware by asking you what your strengths are. Many researches have shown that those who indicate confidence performs better at their job, which is obviously preferable for recruiters. On the flip side, those who brag too much about themselves will be labeled as self-centered and unable to work well in a team.

How to Answer “What Are Your Strengths” in a Job Interview 

Below are the steps to help you come up with the best answer to this question.

Step 1: Identify your own strengths.

The most simple way would be to ask yourself, “What are my strengths?”, but more detailed methods will be listed in the ‘How to Know Your Strengths’ part below. The key is to identify and list out several of your top strengths and narrow it down to the 5 strengths you think are most relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Step 2: Connect them to job requirements.

You are not advertising yourself as the number one candidate in the world. Therefore, remember to look for keywords in the job requirements and connect the strengths you possess to those, informing the recruiters that you are indeed fit for the role.

Step 3: Select one or two relevant strengths.

When talking about your strengths for a job interview, select one or two strengths that are most significant and needed for the position you’re applying for. It’s better to explain the one or two strengths in detail, than weakly listing out several.

Step 4: Provide specific examples and/or details to back them up.

Explaining your own strengths will sound very similar to bragging if not backed by evidence. To make a more direct connection between your strengths and the job, describe the impact you have made in your previous role. It’s even stronger if there is solid, accountable proof like statistics or certifications. 

Dos & Don’ts When Answering “What Are Your Strengths”

In the following, we share what to do and what not to do when answering the commonly asked “What is your biggest strength?” interview question. Hopefully, you will know what are “good strengths” for a job interview and have a better idea of how to answer “What are your strengths?” that will work in your favor.

💡Be assertive.

You want to advertise yourself and be confident in your own strengths, but not to the point of bragging or worse, fabricating strengths just for the sake of passing the interview.

💡 Be specific.

Be as specific as you can when sharing your strengths for a job interview, especially if it’s stronger with a specialization. For example, saying that you specialize in “motion design” is better than saying “design”.

💡 Be relevant.

Pick out strengths that are needed and important, and will bring value to the position. Start from the posted job description and identify keywords in the ‘job requirements’ section. 

💡 Keep your answer under 2 minutes long.

Keep in mind to keep your answer to “What are your strengths?” within 1-2 minutes. Recruiters will possibly hear dozens of responses to the same question, so keeping it short and impactful is definitely the best way to go.

💡 Practice until it sounds natural.

After strategizing your response with the 4 steps mentioned above, practice until it stays within 2 minutes and sounds “unscripted”. Think of this as a presentation about yourself, and go over the “script” until you’re familiar and ready for follow-up questions.

❌ Don’t be too modest.

Be clear and confident about what you’re good at, instead of undermining your own strengths to the point of showing the recruiters that you are unmotivated for the job.

❌ Don’t choose strengths that don’t stand out.

Refrain from picking out strengths that are too general, or applicable to all positions. As an example, writing emails and scheduling meetings are skills necessary, but not special in a marketing team leader position.  

❌ Don’t give too many strengths without proof to back them up.

Anyone can say that they have good teamwork, communication and leadership skills. What differentiates a valid and invalid response is whether there are the greatest strengths’ examples, such as previous related experience to support that it is indeed true. Remember “Quality over quantity.” 

❌ Don’t give irrelevant answers.

You might be tempted to share skills you excel at, but make sure that it will bring value to the position. A case in point, programming skills are critical for a programmer, but not an English teacher.

❌ Don’t memorize your response like a script.

As much as you prepared for this “What is your greatest strength” interview question, you are eventually still talking about yourself. Memorizing and staying too true to the “script” will make you sound like you don’t know about yourself, potentially giving off the vibe that you’re unconfident and under-prepared.

How to Know Your Strengths

If, after asking yourself, “What are my strengths?”, you are still unsure of what to share, here are 3 ways to find out your own strengths.

💭 Go over your resume carefully again. 

Your resume is, in a way, a summary of your experience. Revisit the things you did, whether related or unrelated to the applied job. For an accountant, ‘volunteering for a stray dogs sanctuary for 7 years’ might look unrelated, but it might mean that you stay loyal to your own principles and are emotionally stable, for example.

💭 Ask your friends and/or family. 

This is actually the most straightforward method to find out about yourself, as you might be biased or even blind to your own traits or behavior. For instance, the people around will know that you are a compassionate person, without you even being aware of it.

💭 Reflect on & analyze your past achievements. 

If you have any, this is the most accountable example to share with the recruiters. Look back at your past achievements, but focus on ‘what strengths you need to have’ in order to achieve it. It’s impossible to achieve something without utilizing your strengths, so you just have to think backwards to find it.

“What Is Your Greatest Strength” Answer Samples

Below are some sample answers for “what is your greatest strength” interview question.

“What Are Your Greatest Strengths” Sample Answer for Freshers

Interviewer: “Why should we hire you for this position? What’s your strengths?”

Sample answer: “I pride myself in being able to quickly adapt to change. I was the MC for several university-wide events during the past 4 years, and together with my MC partner, we had to improvise and change up the schedule to ensure the event went smoothly from both the audience and committees’ point of view!”

“What Are Your Greatest Strengths” Example Answer for Teachers

Interviewer: What is your greatest strength? Are there examples of how you applied those strengths in your previous experiences?”

Sample answer: “I completed a one-year training program from X training center in visualization. I am good at explaining complex processes, concepts or groups of ideas to elementary students. I was the lead curriculum designer for Y school, where my team redesigned the Biology teaching style into a more visually engaging one. Our students’ average score for Biology increased from 67 to 84 in one year.”

“What Are Your Greatest Strengths” Example Answer for Nursing Professionals

Interviewer: What do you consider to be your greatest strength?”

Sample answer: “I tend to be calm and collected at all times, even in emergencies. I was head nurse for X hospital’s emergency room for 4 years, where we have had minor to major cases enter the room during midnight. Dr. James has also acknowledged my quick decision making skills critical to providing correct first-aid. I also brought his recommendation letter here, for your reference.”

“What Are Your Greatest Strengths” Sample Answer for Civil Service Professionals

InterviewerWhat are your greatest professional strengths?”

Sample answer: “I maintain a really good physical and mental condition. During the last 3 years, I served as an officer at the police station in the neighborhood town. We took turns for midnight patrol shifts, and 90% of the number of robbery cases were caught by my partner and I. Most of my colleagues reported that the robbers were so fast that they often lost sight of them.”

“What Are Your Greatest Strengths” Sample Answers for a Call Center Interview

Interviewer: What do you consider to be your greatest strength?”

Sample answer“I have had 8 years experience as an administrative assistant, where I helped customers who explained their problems via phone solve those problems. I have dealt with myriad types of customers, from those who talked in circles, those who shouted to those who spoke in inaudible voices. These experiences definitely helped me hone my active listening skills and patience, if you will.”

“What Are Your Greatest Strengths” Sample Answers for a Software Engineer Interview

Interviewer: What is your greatest strength? Examples from your past projects would also be helpful.”

Sample answer: “I am highly specialized in technical communication to those without background in software development, as well as leadership. One of my 8 projects was for a very big supermarket chain, whose name is confidential. The team was 2 months behind on that project led by the previous leader. Our CTO then gave me the opportunity to lead the project, from where I started reshaping how our team and the client communicated. I succeeded in solving the internal and external miscommunication and managed to lead the team to finish the project on time.”

“What Are Your Greatest Strengths” Sample Answers for Business Development Specialist 

Interviewer: What strengths would you bring to our company?”

Sample answer: “My previous managers have acknowledged my sales pitches and negotiation skills. In my past role as a market growth director, there was a client very important for our market expansion strategy. My colleagues have contacted them twice, but they refused to accept our order agreement proposal. I identified what the client wanted that my previous colleagues had missed, negotiated from there, and succeeded in acquiring partnership with the client.”

“What Are Your Greatest Strengths” Sample Answers for Accountant Job Interview

Interviewer: What are your greatest professional strengths?”

Sample answer: “I am an Accredited Tax preparer (ATP), as well as International Accredited Business Accountant (IABA) from ACAT. I also finished Oracle Enterprise Taxation Management 2 Essentials Certification recently. Even though I only have 2 years experience in tax accounting, I am confident that my taxation skills will contribute to your company.” 

“What Are Your Greatest Strengths” Sample Answers for Website Designer

Interviewer: “Why should we hire you?”

Sample answer: “What differentiates me from my peers is my flexibility in designing websites from clients. As I graduated with a degree in graphic design from X University, I am familiar with the basic principles of website design, as well as the technical aspects when realizing my design. This allows a high flexibility in matching whatever requests made by clients.” 

“What Are Your Greatest Strengths” Sample Answers for IT Professional

Interviewer: What do you consider to be your greatest strength?”

Sample answer: “My strength lies in my familiarity with all types of security issues, thanks to my 13 years experience as the head facility for a certain multinational company’s headquarters. My team has encountered several black hacking and data breaches in the past, but we were all able to solve it without much issues.”

🔑 Key Takeaway:

Through this article, you have learnt how to identify and choose good strengths for an interview, how to generate your own “what are your strengths” interview answer, with sample interview answers for different roles at the end.

Keep in mind that there are no “perfect” strengths for a job, so research more on how to answer “what are your strengths”, make connections with the job description and most importantly, practice for maximum results, you can do it!

With CakeResume, you can easily create a resume online, free download your resume’s PDF formats, and utilize ATS-compliant templates to create a resume. Land your dream job, create your resume online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by Evelyn Peng ---

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