You must have come across this question for sure when you sit nervously in front of the interviewer for an interview. Well, you might have a list of strengths but when this question pops-up by the interviewer, you just go blank and can’t think of any strengths. Why does this happen? In this blog, I will share why this question is important in an interview and how you should list down your strengths effectively.
Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?
It’s the interviewer’s job to find someone who will perform in the position and get along with the team. With this question, the interviewer seeks to find out if:
- Your strengths align with the company’s needs
- You can do the job and perform like a rock star
- You are the best person for the job — no need to hold out for someone better
- You have qualities, skills, and/or experience that set you apart from the competition
- You are someone who will make an excellent addition to the team
Common Mistakes While Talking About Your Strengths
Unfortunately, many candidates fail to prepare properly and sabotage themselves. Here are some common mistakes:
- Lack of self-awareness.
Most job seekers don’t spend enough time analyzing their strengths and thinking about which ones are most relevant for each position. Knowing your strengths will serve you well in job interviewing and for the rest of your life as well.
Many candidates are too humble or just aren’t comfortable articulating what makes them great. This is particularly true for introverts and/or people who never really had to “sell” themselves before because new jobs always fell in their laps in the past. You have to get over any hesitation to say nice things about yourself.
3. Choosing lame strengths.
Some often choose strengths that don’t help them stand out — strengths that aren’t important for the job at hand or strengths that just about anybody could claim. This mistake makes a candidate bland and forgettable at best.
How to Talk About Your Strengths?
It’s important to take the time to identify your strengths and PRACTICE talking about them in advance. That way, you’ll be ready when you walk into that interview for your dream job. Let’s start by identifying what your greatest strengths are:
Sit down and make a list of your top strengths — aim for at least 10 and be creative. Jot down everything that comes to mind. You can discard them later if you like.
Your strengths could include:
Experience — 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 Mandarin, etc. (the possibilities here are truly endless)
Soft skills — Competencies such as problem solving, influencing, team building, negotiation, managing, etc. are also strengths you can talk about.
Education/training — Relevant background on topics critical to the job — including college degrees, certifications, training seminars, mentoring, internships, etc.
Narrow your list down to least five strengths that you are comfortable discussing (or could get comfortable discussing with a little bit of practice). You may not talk about all of these strengths in every interview, but it’s good to have options.
3. Prepare Examples.
Develop at least one example or Interview Story to illustrate each of your strengths. It is an important step because the interviewer is not likely to take your word for it. If you have an example to illustrate your strength, it will make you sound more authentic.
5 Tips for Talking About Strengths and Weaknesses in an Interview
- Be accurate.
Choose the strengths that you actually possess. Don’t pick a strength just because it’s in the job description or worked for your friend. In an interview, you need to be just the best and most professional version of yourself. You will be much more convincing and likable if you talk about authentic strengths.
2. Be relevant.
You should take the time to analyse the job description and identify the most important strengths for each opportunity. You are likely to have many strong sides, but you must decide which will be most relevant for the interviewer.
3. Be specific.
Choose specific strengths. For instance: Instead of “people skills” (too broad and boring), go with “relationship building” or “persuasive communication.” Don’t be generic.
4. Don’t be too humble.
Avoid “weak praise” and lame strengths. Pick something impressive. Don’t go with “pleasant to work with” as your main selling point. Just about everybody can and should be pleasant to work with. To get the job, you have to show you would bring more to the position.
5. Be prepared to demonstrate.
It is necessary to have a concise example ready to back each of your strength up. Be careful about rambling on too long here. 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.
In A Nutshell:
The key to talking about your strengths in an interview is to use the opportunity to demonstrate that you’re the best fit for the role, the team, and the company. At the same time, you don’t want to go overboard. Give a confident and honest assessment that does your skills justice, but don’t let yourself veer into hyperbole.