How to Answer Interview Questions About Your Strengths

Preparing and Composing Your Response

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Inquiring about your strengths is of of the most commonly asked questions posed by employers as they evaluate your suitability for a job. Even when they don't overtly ask the question, it's still necessary to address it as it's your job to convince your prospective employer that you possess the core assets needed to excel in the job.

How to Prepare a Response

Interviewers ask this question for a variety of reasons.

It allows them to assess several factors:

  • Your ability to perform well on the job
  • How your strengths match up with the company's needs
  • Whether you stand out from the competition
  • If you'd be a productive and positive member of the team

Analyze your prospective job to identify the key characteristics of the ideal candidate so you can highlight your strengths accordingly. Some job postings list the desired qualifications in detail which will point you in the right direction while others can be rather vague. In that case, seek out professionals in the field for informational consultations to gain insight about what your prospective employer may be looking for.

Compose a List

Make a list of six to eight of your strengths which match the job's key qualifications. Strengths can include skills, areas of knowledge, personal qualities or specific work experiences. Simply stating that you have the right stuff for the job will not be enough to convince an employer that you possess certain strengths.

You'll need to back up your assertions with concrete examples, illustrating the ways in which you've  tapped those strengths to achieve success in work, school, volunteer or co-curricular roles.

Prepare Stories

An effective approach is to prepare an anecdote illustrating the strength you're describing.

Your scenario should follow a formula: describe a situation or challenge; the action you took; and the results, value added or impact of your involvement.

Within each phase, incorporate the strength you want to demonstrate. Strengths can include your experience, talents, education, training, and "soft skills" like negotiation, management and problem solving.

When you're sharing your stories, use power words to convey your achievements to the interviewer.

Interview Questions About Your Strengths

An employer can draw on a wide range of questions to assess your strengths; here are some common approaches:

Don't expect to offer up all your strengths and evidence in one answer. Rather, offer two or three examples at a time. In response to later question you can then incorporate other stories of demonstrating other strengths.

Towards the end of the interview you'll typically be asked if you have anything more to add.

That's a good time to mention any other additional strengths.

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