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How to answer the “What are your greatest strengths?” interview question

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 18 May 2020

Greatest Strength Hero Image

During an interview, some candidates can find it hard to talk about their strengths and accomplishments. However, when the interviewer asks candidates this question, it’s likely that they want to find out whether you and your skills align with the needs of the job role. They are giving you an opportunity to talk about why you are going to be a good fit for the role. Take that opportunity and have a well thought answer at the ready. You need to feel comfortable when talking about your strengths and really understand why you are good fit for the job. Take the time beforehand to really prepare for this question, to make sure you don’t miss out on a good chance to show off a little.

What can your strengths include?

Your experience – Interviewers always want to hear about any relevant experience that you have. Whether that be from working in similar job role or that you have experience working with a piece of equipment or software. Make sure you are linking this to the job spec that they have given you. If you have experience using equipment that is key to this job, then make sure you are sharing. You want to make sure that you are giving them every reason possible to hire you.

Your education and training experiences – Your education is important. Whether it be from higher education, apprenticeships or training that you had whilst at work. All education is significant. This is also a good time to mention any extra learning you have done in your spare time, this shows your commitment and drive to succeed, which can really impress the interviewer.  

Soft Skills – Soft skills can be just as important as anything else. Teamwork, presentation skills, good communication are all important in any job. Who doesn’t want an engineer with passion and drive to solve problems? Make sure you are talking about these skills; they can often be pushed to the side and forgotten about.

Preparing is the key to success

When preparing for any interview question, it’s all about preparation. However, when answering this question, the way you think about yourself can be very important. For some, it can be difficult to talk about their abilities, they might see it as a way of showing off. But in an interview situation, it’s the perfect time to talk about yourself because it’s all about getting to know you. There can be a fine line between confident and cocky, so try and find a balance. Take some time to look through your CV and see what skills you have written on there. Then match them up to the desired skills on the job spec. Think about why you have included these on your CV, you must think they are important skills? Ask yourself why they would be important for this job and why you are a good person to carry out these tasks.

If you are still struggling with the idea of talking yourself up, it can be a good idea to ask friends and family what they think you’re good at. It can sometimes help hearing it from someone else. From here, you can think about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Take notes and start from there, it’ll be easy to write a draft answer in no time.

Be confident in discussing your strengths

Telling someone to ‘be confident’ doesn’t help them magically change their mindset. You need to believe that you are good enough for the job to get the results you want. Try talking out loud about your strengths and hearing yourself say it can really help you believe what you’re saying. Because if you don’t believe it, it’s not likely the interviewer will. This might be something that comes with practice, for some it can just come naturally. But as clichéd as it sounds, believing in yourself really does make a difference. Write your answer down, practice it, record yourself or practice with someone. Do whatever you need to do to increase your confidence.

Back up your claims with an example

During an interview, you want to be able to back up your claims. So, if you say that one of your strengths is leadership, then try and think of a specific time when you demonstrated these skills. Whether that be in a work situation or outside of work, it’s one thing to claim that you have a skill but it’s even better to give the interviewer an example. It provides a bit of substance to your answer and will make you seem more credible. It’s important to try and not ramble on though, your answer should be concise and to the point.

Example Answer

I think this job role is a great fit for me and my work experience. I am a highly organised person, always making sure that the things I do are completed to a high quality. I have previously worked in a high-pressure environment and I understand the importance of organisation and being able to keep on top of your work. Sometimes, it can make or break a project.

I also feel like I make a good leader. In my past role as Senior Team Leader, I was comfortable taking to and leading a team of 5 during my latest project in that role. Working together to solve problems is the best thing you can do as a leader, it’s not all about you. It’s important to understand that everyone has a say and I believe that is a very important skill to have.

It’s important to really understand your potential and what you have to offer a prospective employer. Having an answer ready is great but as I usually mention, it’s not the best idea to memorise it word for word. Sometimes, when you’re put in an interview situation, words can come naturally, so you don’t want a script getting in the way of that. Try and remember a few bullet point and the answer will come to you. Preparation is important but believing in yourself is what will help you get the job.