One of the most commonly asked interview questions is, what are your strengths?
It helps to know exactly what you’re good at and how it relates to the job before you walk through the door so you’re ready with an answer. It’s time to get your brag on and show them how well suited you are for the position.
Why you’re being asked about your strengths
If an interviewer asks you what your strengths are, they’re assessing your ability to do the job. Plain and simple.
If your strengths align with their company’s values and needs, they’re more likely to recognize that you’re a great addition to the team. It also helps to show your understanding of the job and your self-awareness.
So, what should I say?
If you’re not sure what your strengths are, take some time to write down what you’re good or what you enjoy at and how that could translate into workplace strengths.
These strengths can be hard or soft skills. Hard skills are things like spoken language fluency, specific certifications or trainings, whether you know how to implement specific processes, whether you know specific software, etc.—something that can be measured. Soft skills, which cannot be measured, are things like communication, interpersonal skills, conflict management, leadership, empathy, listening, problem-solving, organizational skills, and adaptability.
Your answer should be truthful and relevant to the job you’re interviewing for. Read the job description closely to find what they’re looking for in a candidate: management experience? A coding language? Customer service skills? Research methodology?
Build your answer around the qualifications you possess.
What should I not say?
Anything untrue. Don’t say just what you think the interviewer wants to hear and don’t stretch the truth.
How to form your answer
Tell a story
Showing your strengths with anecdotes is one of the best ways to demonstrate what you’re good at. If you’re vague, you’ll sound uncertain about your own abilities, which won’t give your interviewer much faith in you.
I think I’m pretty good at leading people. I’ve done it a few times at work. I could probably handle a team.
I’m particularly good at leading a team. I’ve led several successful large scale projects, including an operational overhaul, which involved managing a team of 10 to completely rewrite how the organization delivers plans to clients, receives feedback, and agrees on changes.
Show your passion
This advice rings true across most interview questions, and it applies here too. Showing why you’re proud of your strengths, and why you’ve taken time to hone those skills, shows how much you care.
I’m goal-oriented. I know there will be lofty goals in this position and I know I can meet them.
I’m very goal-oriented because I love the satisfaction of completing a project. I pride myself in achieving the best results. By setting and hitting goals, I’m able to better myself and set new standards, so I’m always growing as a person and an employee.
Focus on the job you’ve applied for
When you’re asked what are your strengths? remember that the interviewer wants to know how well you could do the job. Link your strengths back to essential requirements from the job description, or core abilities you know the employer is looking for.
Working with data can be a bit boring, but because I’m creative I can make it interesting.
One of my greatest strengths is my creativity. I thrive when I’m able to flex my creative muscles to make even the most “boring” data exciting. I know that one obstacle for the organization is making the data you collect relevant and digestible to the world. I would love to take this on because I love numbers and I love the stories they tell.
Read more: How to Prepare for an In-Person Interview