How to Answer the Interview Question, 'What Are Your Strengths?'

Man being interrogated.
Getty Images/Henrik Sorensen

Most people want to be recognized for their our own unique value, not valued for how they compare to other people. If you feel this way, it can be challenging when an employer asks you to elaborate on what makes you better than other candidates vying for the job.

For example, an employer might ask you something like, "What can you do better for us than another candidate?" or, "Why should we pick you instead of picking someone else?" 

Be Careful When You Answer These Questions

It may seem sneaky, but this type of question can also be a trap to determine if you have an inflated view of yourself or tend to be overly critical of your colleagues. The best approach is usually to view these kinds of questions as an opportunity to highlight your strengths to the potential employer. Just be sure when you highlight your strengths, you don't imply that you are better than everyone around you. 

Start With a Disclaimer

It can be helpful to start with a disclaimer that you are not aware of the strengths of the other candidates. Also, note that you are sure there are some impressive individuals applying for such an attractive position. After that, you can go on to assert that you have many assets that will enable you to make a solid contribution to the company should you be hired.

For example, you might say, "Although I am not familiar with the others who you are interviewing for this position, I am sure there are a lot of talented people applying for the job.

However, given my unique background and experiences, I consider myself to be a strong candidate for this position."

Follow Up With Your Strengths

Then, you can follow up by specifically describing your own unique strengths. But, it is not enough to present your strengths in general terms. You need to be prepared to reference 6 - 8 strengths in terms of the skills, past experiences, areas of knowledge, and personal qualities that you bring to the position.

Remember, your presentation will be most convincing if you provide concrete examples of how you have applied your strengths to add value to previous jobs including internships. Depending on the depth of your work experience, you can also draw upon school projects and volunteer work. Be sure to describe situations or challenges, actions you took and the quantitative results you generated by tapping into each of your unique strengths. This may seem like a lot of work, but it's worth the effort if you nab the job. 

Before you go to an interview, review the description of the job and identify what responsibilities seem to be most important to the employer. Try to share as many of your attributes as possible that correlate with the core functions of the job. 

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