What are your go-to job interview strengths? You can come in to an interview more confidently by preparing some answers to “What is your greatest strength?” ahead of time. Here are 5 great options to start from to get you thinking!
By: Daniel Lorenzo | Content Marketing Manager at Let’s Eat, Grandma
Let’s be honest: everyone dreads job interviews. But regardless of the job, there are a few common questions that you need to have answers prepared for ahead of time. Chief among those questions is: “What is your greatest strength?”
Talking about your greatest strength is difficult for any job-seeker. Interview strengths make us feel self-conscious because we’re nervous about picking one that makes us sounds either conceited or under-qualified. For many of us, we actually end up being too humble when answering and lose out on a chance to sell ourselves.
However, that’s exactly why interviewers ask this question. (In fact, it’s #2 on this recent list of most common interview questions!)
In an interview, strengths that are properly explained demonstrate your communication, honesty, and self-awareness, all of which can prove how effective you’ll be in the job.
There are many effective strengths you could choose to mention. You need to choose one that’s concise, relevant to the job, and that you can back up with specific examples.
Here’s a list of 5 common, useful interview strengths to get you started:
A List of 5 Great Interview Strengths
1. A Particular Hard Skill
If it’s crucial to the job, don’t be afraid of saying that a certain technical skills is your greatest strength. Just be sure that if you go this route, you have a specific accomplishment to attach to the strength, otherwise your strength is obvious, expected and vague
(For instance: if you’re applying for a Graphic Designer position, don’t just say your biggest strength is graphic design…)
Ways to phrase it:
“I’m a very talented copy editor – in fact, I was promoted to Senior Copy Editor for my University’s newspaper for my senior year. I know this position entails editing, AP Style, analysis, and good editorial judgement in addition to writing and design, and my copy editing experience will give me an advantage.”
“I’m excellent at budgeting. I’ve managed budgets of over $5M for major organizations to drive stellar process improvements. My budgeting expertise has allowed to find an extra $50K to launch a new program in my last position, and I’m confident it will help me find more ways to improve your organization.”
Everyone loves a good leader. You may have felt like “be a leader, not a follower!” was hammered into your head in school, but it was for good reason: leadership consistently ranks among the top skills that recruiters look for.
If you have a history of motivating people you’re in charge of, following through on big ideas, delegating to accomplish goals, consider choosing leadership as your greatest strength.
“I would say leadership is my greatest strength. As the Field Operations Manager at AT&T, I was responsible for overseeing 5 different stores. I regularly checked in with my team of managers and communicated my expectations clearly, which boosted their morale and increased the overall profit of each store last year by at least 30%.”
“I pride myself on my leadership skills – in my last position, I was able to turn around the performance of my entire department. I motivated my team, restructured our workflow, and convinced upper management to increase our resources, which made us the top-performing department in our region after just 6 months.”
How many times have you heard “I’m a great team player”? While this particular phrase sounds a little cheesy, teamwork is a great strength to emphasize. Claiming Teamwork (or Collaboration, its sophisticated cousin) as your greatest strength shows that you’re skilled at listening, giving feedback, and knowing both when to speak up and when to concede.
Employers want people who can get along with their co-workers, and not everyone knows how to (remember that person who tried to take over and wouldn’t listen to anyone in that group project in school? They work in an office now.)
“I’ve always been a great team player. Both managers and clients have told me I’m easy to work with in each of my positions so far, and I pride myself on being able to be both flexible and assertive, depending on my teammates.”
“I would have to say teamwork. I work with a different team on a different project every 6-8 months, so I’ve become adept at understanding my team members’ personalities and coming up with an ideal for each job.”
4. Work Ethic/Persistence
Similarly, everyone wants someone who follows through. Do you people say that you “go the extra mile” or “just get things done”? Can’t stand to leave a project unfinished or sloppy, even if it means staying late? Did you achieve something unprecedented through sheer hard work, like a promotion after your first 2 months?
You might be able to swing saying that your biggest strength is your work ethic, as it can easily apply to your whole career thus far.
“Persistence. I earned a full tuition scholarship in college, and earned 2 prestigious summer internships while making the Dean’s List every semester. Since then, I’ve been able to push through seemingly impossible obstacles to achieve my professional goals, including a promotion in my first two months at my last position.”
“I pride myself on my work ethic. I never leave a project unfinished, which is why my current supervisor put me in charge of salvaging a failing $5M product launch running several weeks behind schedule, which I managed to deliver on-time and within budget.”
5. Customer Service/Client Relations
If you’re working in a client-facing job in service or sales, Customer Service (or a similar phrase that describes serving people) is a surefire strength to choose. Explain how you treat clients like royalty, ultimately increasing their satisfaction and the business’s reputation.
“I always put the customer first, no matter how inconvenient it might seem. In my last position, I was awarded a bonus for going the extra mile with a client by answering her urgent questions after hours, and even offering her a free 2nd version of her resume.”
Make an Interview Battle Plan
Use the examples above as inspiration to think about your own great professional strength.
Take some time to think through 2-3 top strengths. Then write down how you’re going to explain each of them, what specific examples/stories you’ll cite, and how they apply to the job you’re interviewing for.
Above all, make sure the strength you choose is honest and critical to the job. (It doesn’t really help to hear that you’re great at Excel if you’re applying to be a Magazine Editor…)
By doing so, you’ll demonstrate that you’re self-aware, proactive, and a well-rounded professional, all of which will make the interviewer that much closer to realizing you’re the perfect candidate.
Still worried about even making it to the interview stage? Visit our homepage and upload your resume for a FREE Career Score. See how our business writing experts can get your materials in shape and land you your dream job!