Questions to Ask Yourself Before an Interview: What Are My Strengths?

You’re unlikely to make it to the end of any job interview without the interviewer asking you about your strengths. However, even if you are not asked directly about them, you will certainly want to highlight your strengths if you want a job offer at the end of it.

When conducting your interview preparation be sure to sit down and ask yourself, what are my strengths? Too many candidates don’t talk about their strengths in an effective way so if you can, you will stand out from the crowd.

Why do interviewers ask you about your strengths?

The interviewer needs to determine whether you are a good fit for the role and the team. To do this, they need to know your strengths. They want to see that you have the qualities and skills that they are looking for and that you can make an impact in this role.

Your answer to this question should help them to see that you will perform well in the job, that you’re better than your competition and that you really will be a great addition to their team.

Where others go wrong

Being asked about your strengths seems quite straightforward and like an easy question to answer. Don’t be fooled! It’s a great opportunity to sell yourself, but many candidates make these errors:

  • Being too modest. Bragging about all the things we’re good at doesn’t come naturally for a lot of people. However, in an interview situation you need to bite the bullet, put in the hard work and have the confidence to sell yourself. If you prepare answers and practice beforehand, this should help you to feel more comfortable talking about your strengths.
  • Choosing mundane strengths. Your strengths should help you to stand out from the crowd, not fade into the background. Don’t choose strengths that anyone could have and that won’t make a big impression on the interviewer. Saying you’re a hard worker isn’t impressive because the alternative is just being lazy. More importantly, your strengths need to be relevant to the role you are interviewing for.
  • Lacking self-awareness. It’s important to know your both your strengths and weaknesses, not only in an interview situation but also throughout your career. Many people simply don’t spend enough time analysing their strengths and matching them to the jobs they apply for.

How to identify your strengths

Get started by making a list of your skills and what you think are your ten greatest strengths. Give it plenty of thought and try to be creative with your list. Simply write down everything that pops into your head.

Strengths can come in all sorts of forms including:

  • Work and industry experience
  • Talents
  • Soft skills e.g. customer service, writing skills, people skills, attention to details etc.
  • Education and training

Once you have an extensive list, try to narrow it down to five strengths that you think you could discuss in more detail during an interview. You may not talk about them all in every single interview, but it’s beneficial to have a few options.

Struggling to know what your strengths are?

If you’re feeling like you are stuck at the first hurdle, some of these methods should help you to identify your strengths:

  • Asking your colleagues or friends what they think your strengths are
  • Look back at any positive feedback you have received from managers in the past
  • Take another look at what’s on your CV
  • Try an online assessment like this one to identify your strengths and weaknesses

Talking about your strengths

Listing off your strengths doesn’t really prove to an interviewer that you have them. Therefore, for each strength that you may want to discuss during an interview, you should have a concise example or story about when you have demonstrated it. To answer this question well, practice your answers beforehand to ensure that they don’t turn into a long, rambling story.

You should also try to avoid talking about generic sounding strengths. For example, instead of saying you have good communication skills, you may want to talk more specifically about your excellent relationship building skills.

How to know which are the best strengths to talk about

The strengths you talk about during an interview need to do two things:

  1. Show the interviewer that you are the right person for the job
  2. Be an accurate representation of you

The job description is a great place to identify what strengths the interviewer will be looking for. However, don’t just say you have the strengths listed there if it isn’t true. At the end of the day, you need to be yourself and if who you are doesn’t fit with this role/company then it’s better for you that you don’t get a job offer.

What to do if you’re not asked about your strengths

If you’re not directly asked about your strengths, you’ll need to find other ways to talk about them during your interview. The interviewer may ask you other questions such as, why should we hire you? which will give you an opportunity to discuss your strengths.

Bringing it all together

You should be able to attend every interview with your top strengths in mind and a clear idea of what key points you want to get across. These would include your strengths and any impressive knowledge that you have gained when researching the company.

When you’re not directly asked about the things you want to talk about, it’s down to you to look for and take the opportunities that arise.

Good luck!

Discover more common interview questions to prepare for here.

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