Interview Questions: What are your strengths? | Let

Interview Questions: What are your strengths?

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Discussing your strengths during an interview is easier than talking about your weaknesses. However, people still make mistakes or say the wrong thing. Just like the question, What are your weaknesses? the question What are your Strengths? needs to be answered carefully.

To start with there are a couple of things you need to avoid.

Talking about Irrelevant strengths

My friends all say I'm a fun and happy person.

Not all strengths are relevant to each job, and some strengths aren't even job related. A personal strength that isn't job related isn't what the interviewer is after. By giving an irrelevant strength you show that you didn't under the question, don't care about your answer, or don't have any strengths to mention.

Coming across as arrogant or too cocky

I have proven leadership skills as you can see from my resume, this helps me to show people that my way is the best way.

Being modest during an interview can hide your true worth. But on the flip side, going over board and making big claims in order to seem important can be just as damaging. If you say you're excellent at a task, you need to be able to show it. Even if you can show that your claims are correct, coming across as if it's your way or the highway, might not sit well with the interviewer.

Rambling during an interview

I'm a good problem solver, I'm positive and get along well with people, my communication skills make me an effective team member, I'm a dedicated employee and make sure my work is always correct, I'm reliable and can be counted on to complete tasks and arrive at work on time, and I'm flexible and always willing to take on responsibilities when it's required of me. I have a lot of strengths, do you want me to continue?

The question What are your strengths, isn't an invitation to see how many qualities you can list about yourself in a short time. Condense your list down to a couple of the skills that are the most relevant for the position or company. An unfocused answer, where you mention ten different strengths can show that you don't understand what's important for the position.

Talking about a strength that is actually a weakness

I'm really dedicated and have great attention to detail, I can't stop until I have completed a task and made sure that task is 100% perfect, even if it means I have to keep working during my free time after work or on the weekend

Some things seems like a strength at first, but as you think about them it becomes clear that they're more like weaknesses. This example sounds like a strength, after all you said you are dedicated and have attention to detail. But, what you've also indicated is you can't let things go, you obsess over tasks trying to make them perfect even if they don't need it, you can't focus on more than one task which means all your other work doesn't get completed, and you spend too much time on these tasks to the point where you need to use your free time in order to complete them.

Be careful how you describe your strengths, you may actually be talking about a weakness. In this example if you left it at an attention to detail and support your answer with an example, you cut out all the negative sounding parts of your answer. In addition to what you say, be specific when talking about your strengths and show you have confidence in what you're saying. If you don't seem committed to what you're saying it will show that you don't believe it yourself.

Preparing your answer

Your strengths will have the greatest impact when you can relate them to the job you're applying for. To do this have a read through the job description and pick out all the important parts of it. Once you've noted the important things for this job, have a think about whether or not you can relate your strengths to these requirements. Never lie about your strengths, or say you have what the interviewer is looking for when you don't. Whether it comes out now or later, the result will be bad.

When you say you have a strength you need to be able to back up your claims with examples. Examples help to support your claim by showing you're not lying, and demonstrate how you've performed in different situations.

To find your strengths think about what you do best, what areas you could be considered an expert, what areas people come to you for help, and what current or previous co-workers and managers would say about you.

For example, My strengths are my strong communication and problem solving skills that allow me to resolve difficult situations. I've been working as a customer service representative for the past 5 years. During this time I've learned how to get to the core of what the customers issue is and the best way to resolve the situation. This is especially helpful in situations where the customer is very unhappy and there's the potential for the situation to escalate out of control if not handled carefully.

There are a lot of qualities you could mention as your strengths.

  • Organisation and Management skills
  • Reliability
  • A Willingness to take on responsibilities
  • The ability to learn quickly
  • Determination
  • Problem Solving
  • Flexibility in your work
  • A good attention to detail
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills
  • The ability to work well in a team
  • The ability to work well independently
  • Creativity
There are a lot of things you could say, you just need to have a think about your abilities.

Whatever you decide to say when answering this question, make sure it's relevant to the job you're applying for, that it's the truth, and if you can provide an example of how you used this strength that will help support your claims.

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