Even though you know it’s coming, when the hiring manager asks, “What are your greatest strengths?” you get a little nervous. You know what you’re good at, but are those the right strengths for this job interview?
As it turns out, there are “right” and “wrong” strengths to discuss during an interview. And fortunately, you probably possess the exact ones you need to wow the interviewer. But choosing the right strengths isn’t the same as your top or even best strength.
In this guide, we’ll help you figure out which of your strengths you should highlight:
- Why Do Employers Ask About Your Greatest Strength?
- How to Answer ‘What Is Your Greatest Strength?‘
- Example Answers for ‘What Is Your Greatest Strength?‘
- Sample Strengths for a Job Interview
Ace the interview
Why Do Employers Ask About Your Strengths in a Job Interview?
When an employer asks, “What is your greatest strength?” they are asking you to talk about what you’re good at. But it’s important to discuss a strength that’s relevant to the role you’re interviewing for. “Employers tend to ask this question to assess if a job seeker has key skills for a role or how they may fit as part of the team,” says Laci Baker, MEd, CCMC, CPRW, NCOPE, and career advisor at the University of Phoenix.
So, the hiring manager is really asking: what is your greatest strength that’s related to this role, and how will you use it to succeed in the job?
How to Answer ‘What Is Your Greatest Strength?’
The best strengths for a job interview are specific to you and the role. So, while you may be excellent at manipulating spreadsheets, if the job has nothing to do with spreadsheets, you shouldn’t highlight this skill in your answer.
Baker advises job seekers to review the job posting and identify three skills that align with their skills and past experiences and focus on one of those as their answer. “Strengths should be related to the role. If strengths are too general, they likely won’t be very impactful to share during an interview,” she says.
However, you need to do more than name your greatest strength. “Prep an answer that highlights how you’ve successfully demonstrated these skills or strengths,” says Baker.
One way to do this is by using the STAR method. In the STAR method, you describe a situation you faced, the task you needed to complete, the actions you took to complete the task, and what the results were.
When the interviewer asks, “What is your greatest strength?” talk about one of the skills from the job posting that you possess and how you used it in a specific situation. For example, if the job description says there’s a lot of client interaction and you’ll need stellar conflict-resolution skills, you could talk about your active listening skills or your empathy.
Then identify a time you used that strength in a situation similar to those you might face in the role. You could discuss how you used your active listening skills to help a client resolve a dispute they had and how that resulted in you retaining the client.
>>MORE: Get more tips and tricks for acing interview questions.
Example Answers for ‘What Is Your Greatest Strength?’
Here are some example answers for “What is your greatest strength?” using the STAR method.
My greatest strength is my attention to detail. People often tease me for having an “eagle eye,” but because I notice the tiniest of details, I was asked to create the technical documentation for our client tracking system. Once the manual was released, we had a 30% decrease in data input errors.
I think my greatest strength is my adaptability. I got my first job just as the pandemic started. So, instead of going into the office for training and meeting my new coworkers face-to-face, I had to do everything virtually, which was not what I planned for. But I learned how to build strong relationships and became very adept at troubleshooting technical details. Over time, people started coming to me for technical assistance because of how knowledgeable and patient I was.
Sample Strengths for a Job Interview
The strengths you choose for your job interview will vary depending on who you are and what the role is. However, here is a list of popular strengths that many employers look for in applicants:
- Hard skills (like specific software or technical abilities)
- Organization and time management
Ready to prepare for your next interview? Enroll in our free Career Readiness course, launched in partnership with the National Urban League, to learn how to develop your personal story.
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