How to answer “what are your strengths?”
Being able to perfectly and correctly answer interview questions can be challenging for job seekers, especially first time job seekers who have little or no experience in job hunting. As important as it is to apply for a job and get called up for interview, acing the interview by giving the right answers to questions asked is much more important.
This article will help provide steps and answers to how to give the perfect reply to the question, what are your strengths? Even when this question is not asked, you must be able to answer it in order to land the job. After all, from the employer’s perspective, the main point of a job interview is to understand what you could do for the organization and why she should hire you instead of someone else.
You must be prepared to talk about your strengths. Many candidates don’t do it well, so there is an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd if you can speak about your strengths in an authentic and compelling way.
WHY IS THE QUESTION ASKED?
To be able to give the right answer to any question even beyond interview, you must be able to determine why the person has asked the question, this will put you at a better perspective to answer the question.
It is the interviewer’s job to find someone who will perform excellently in the position and get along with the team. Therefore, by asking the question, the interviewer wants to know if:
- Your strengths align with the company’s needs
- You can do the job and perform excellently
- You are the best person for the job and there will be no need to look out for someone better
- You have qualities, skills, and/or experience that set you apart from the competition
- You are someone who will make a great member of the team
COMMON MISTAKES JOB SEEKERS MAKE
As a job seeker, you might want to assume the question is a simple one to answer, thereby letting your guard down and eventually providing the wrong answer to the question.
Unfortunately, many candidates fail to prepare properly and sabotage themselves. Here are some of the common mistakes people make:
Lack of self-awareness.
It is important that you know yourself; who you are? What you can do? What you are capable of? Amongst others.
Knowing your strengths will serve you well in job interviewing and for the rest of your life as well. Most job seekers don’t spend enough time analyzing their strengths and thinking about which ones are most relevant for each position
Job seekers find it difficult to fully express and sell themselves. They want to play the humility card and feel saying great things about themselves will equal pride.
You have to get over any hesitation to say nice things about yourself. You can do it in a way that feels comfortable and authentic if you prepare in advance.
Don’t be ashamed to praise yourself. Don’t be ashamed to sell yourself.
Choosing unwanted strengths.
While others are making the two mistakes above, some job seekers are busy giving strengths that are not needed for the job or role at hand. Strengths that do not portray them as different from others.
This mistake makes a candidate bland and forgettable at best.
HOW TO TALK ABOUT YOUR STRENGTHS
Having pointed out the mistakes you should avoid while answering the question, what are your strengths, how then do you develop and present the perfect answer?
Giving the right answer requires you to take the time to identify your strengths and PRACTICE talking about them in advance, this way, you’ll be ready when you walk into that interview for your dream job. To identify or confirm what your greatest strengths are:
- Do some Brainstorming.
Take time to make a list of your top strengths, aim for at least 10 and be creative. Write down everything that comes to mind. You can delete or do some editing later.
Your strengths could be one or more of these:
- Experience: The experience you have gathered over time. Experience with a certain software or type of task, expertise in a particular industry, a track record of working with similar products or clients, etc.
- Talents : Abilities such as programming in a desired language, writing proposals, selling widgets, litigating cases, organizing events, translating from one language to another, etc.
- Soft skills: Modern soft skills and competencies such as problem solving, time management, influencing, team building, negotiation, communication, critical thinking, etc.
- Education/training: Relevant background on topics critical to the job such as college degrees, certifications, training seminars, mentoring, internships, etc.
Cut down your list to at least five strengths that you are comfortable discussing. The more you have the better. You may not talk about all of these strengths in every interview, but it’s good to have options.
- Prepare and Practice Examples.
Develop at least one example with a story to illustrate each of your strengths. Rehearse how you intend to answer the question, however, be careful not to sound rehearsed. It should continue to ring in your mind that you just want to ace the interview.
Guidelines to lead you into giving a perfect answer to the question
- Be honest to yourself.
Don’t fake it, choose strengths that you really do possess. You want to be yourself in the interview and not fake. You want to be in the best, professional and real version of yourself as this will also help you connect well with the interviewer.
Don’t pick strength just because it’s in the job description or worked for your buddy.
- Be relevant.
Even if you have many strengths that you possess, ensure to focus on the one(s) most relevant to the job so you do not sound odd and out of place.
You should take time to analyze the job description and identify the most important strengths for each opportunity.
- Be specific.
Ensure that your strengths are not vague. They should be measurable and qualitative.
Choose specific strengths. Instead of “people skills”, say “relationship building” or “persuasive communication.” Don’t be generic.
- Don’t be too humble.
As earlier stated in the common mistakes above, avoid lame strengths. Choose something impressive.
Don’t go with “pleasant to work with” as your main selling point. Everybody should be pleasant to work with. To get the job, you have to show that you stand out and bring the best to the table.
- Prepare to demonstrate.
Have example to back each strength up. Your answer should still be 1-2 minutes long. If you want to share three strengths and back each up with an example, you will want to practice in advance so that you can do it in a concise way.
|Here are examples of how to answer the question, what are your strengths?
“My greatest strength is my writing skills. I can also work to tight deadlines under pressure. For example, I was once asked to complete a project that fell through the cracks. My editor discovered the mistake two hours before the deadline.
It was an important piece that gave our publication a scoop on the topic in question. Not only did the piece have to go out on time, but it had to be perfect. I hunkered down and wrote. The result? The article was on time and acclaimed.”
“I think one of my greatest strengths is as a problem solver. I have the ability to see a situation from different perspectives and I can get my work done even in the face of difficult obstacles. I also feel that my communication skills are top-notch. I feel just as comfortable presenting to senior executives as I do mediate a conflict between junior team members. I worked as a programmer in the past so I have that perspective of a developer and I think that they respect me for that.”
By Deborah Yusuf