How To Answer “What Is Your Greatest Strength?”

When participating in a job interview, there’s a good chance you’ll come across many of the same common interview questions. With so much practice, it’s easy for job seekers to answer the standard questions like “What is your greatest strength?”

“Instead of thinking up interesting, thought-provoking questions, they resort to prosaic questions, like “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” The good news for job hunters is that these questions are relatively easy to answer.” –Jack Kelly, Forbes

Companies want to learn the type of value you’ll bring to the organization, so it makes sense they’d want to know your best qualities. Don’t just point out generic traits like timeliness or irrelevant ones like how high you can jump. Break through to the heart of the question and dive at your greatest, most relevant strengths by considering these points.

Be prepared

You don’t want to be on the spot listing things you think you might be good at aimlessly. Because this is such a frequently asked question, you’ll want to take the time to actually know your strengths and practice answering the question.

Job Hunt’s Susan P. Joyce says to start by asking yourself the question along with asking people you trust the same question. Self-scouting is always a great way to come up with a list of prepared answers, but asking others is a great way to find things you may have missed.

Once you have a list of your best strengths in mind, you can practice your answer using the following points to build confident and impressive answers. Consider doing a mock interview or working with a mentor to practice.

“Outline your speaking points in advance and practice them until you’re comfortable with your response. Having an idea of what you’re going to say before your interview will help your answer sound polished and natural.” -Jamie Birt, Indeed

Focus on the job description

Not every strength will be the absolute best option for every job opportunity. Even when you’re looking for a specific title, different companies will have different needs, and you might need to pull the right tool from your utility belt.

Make sure to do a deep review of the job description. You’ll get a good idea of what the company really needs right away, according to Joel Schwartzberg. With their biggest needs being directly identified, you can tailor your answer easily. Just like we’ve said to utilize keywords in your resume, be sure to circle back to these keywords when answering the question.

“There’s no need to guess what superstar qualities they’re looking for — it’s all there in black and white. Look for the attributes listed under the “preferred qualifications” or “required skills” section of the job description.” –Joel Schwartzberg

Think in terms of skills

You’re probably good at a lot of things, but not all of them are what a company is looking for when they ask this question. Simply always being on time or knowing how to talk to people isn’t quite enough. Using the job description as a starting point, think of what specific skills are needed in this role, and how can you use them.

Soft skills are important in every role, so think of your strengths in terms of tangible skills. The Muse’s Lily Zhang says to really consider what skills you’ll need to excel in this role and to frame your strengths in this way. If you’ll be interacting with clients or customers, discussing your communication skills is wise, while if you’re going to be in a fast-paced environment, you might discuss your ability to multitask and prioritize.

Being able to frame your strengths in a specific and tangible manner will be more effective than simply saying what you think you’re good at.

Use examples

Of course, you can’t just expect hiring managers to take your word at face value. I could say “I am the finest writer in all of human history,” but no one would believe it without proof. That’s why you want to support your strengths by showing your potential employer how you’ve used them in the past.

Forbes’ Jack Kelly says to once again find the best use for your skills at that organization and show how you’ve utilized them in the past. If you’re a creative type, you might show off a portfolio. You can show how you exceeded monthly sales quotas. If you’ve saved the company money, you can show your interviewer how you did so.

“As mentioned, you have to be focused and specific while answering the question. You should play with facts and figures while answering this question. If you do so, the answer will appear more genuine and hence more impressive.” –Rakesh Ghumatkar, LinkedIn

The more specific you can be, the easier it is for the interviewer to see you’ve put your strengths into action in the past and can use them to add value to the organization.

Wrap up

By doing some preparations before the interview, you can be ready to tackle this common interview question. Have a good understanding of your skills, know how to relate them to the job at hand, use specific examples, and express confidence and you’ll successfully convey that your strengths will bring value to the organization.

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