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It’s a standard interview question and on the surface, it sounds pretty simple: “What are your greatest strengths?”

But, don’t just roll your eyes and skip right over this one as you prepare your responses. A prospective employer asks it for a reason – and you want to be ready to nail it when the time comes.

The Best Way to Answer

What interviewers really want to know when they ask this question is whether or not your best qualities align with the needs of their company and the responsibilities of the job. It’s a key part of determining if you’re a good fit for the role.

  • Be prepared by making a list of the specific qualifications mentioned in the job posting. Then, make a list of your skills that match them. Next to each skill, note an example of how you have used that strength in the past.
  • Don’t appear boastful or arrogant. Be comfortable articulating what makes you an ideal candidate. And as with any interview answer, keep your statement concise. Avoid rambling. For instance, your response might be something like, “I have an extremely strong work ethic. When I’m assigned a project, I don’t just want to meet deadlines. I prefer to complete the project well ahead of schedule. Last year, I earned a bonus for completing my all four of my quarterly reports a week ahead of time.”

Even if this exact question isn’t asked, you must be able to answer it in other ways in order to land the job. After all, from an employer’s perspective, the whole point of an interview is to understand what you could do for their company and why they should hire you over your competition.

Avoid Sabotaging Yourself

Among the most costly mistakes candidates make when approaching the “greatest strengths” interview question are:

  • Lack of self-awareness: Not spending enough prep time analyzing their strengths and identifying which ones are most relevant for the position.
  • Modesty: You don’t want to overdo your self-praise, but being too humble can also hurt you. This is especially challenging if you’re an introvert or have never had to “sell” yourself in the past. It’s important to overcome any hesitancy to say nice things about yourself.
  • Stumbling through their response: This is one reason to brainstorm, prepare adequately ahead of time, and rehearse this and all your possible responses. A career coach can be a tremendous asset for this and other aspects of interview prep.

To help you put your best foot forward in your next interview, consider working with an executive search consultation from TRC Professional Solutions. We guarantee you individualized time and attention to ensure that you’ll be ready to hit the ground running. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.


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