In an interview, it is inevitable that you will at some point be asked to talk about your strengths. Many people have a difficult time answering adequately, and because of this, the dreaded question provides an opportunity to stand above the other candidates. A priority for the interviewer is to find someone who would best perform in the position, which could be why the majority of interviewers will put emphasis on this particular question.
When thinking of how to answer the question, it’s important to consider what it is the interviewer is trying to find out from the response. The basic idea is to establish three things; if the candidate is the best person for the job, what qualities they have that makes them stand out from the other candidates, and if these qualities meet the requirements of the job.
Avoid the pitfalls
There are a number traps that a candidate can fall into when making an attempt to answer the question, but a few of the common mistakes can be easily avoided.
One thing to think about is relevance; as even if you take pride in your punctuality or smart appearance, it may not be something to help you stand out in the crowd. The basis of the response should have at least some relevance to the position that you applied for, or be a quality that the other candidates may be less likely to have.
Another thing to consider is self-analysis. Some people don’t consider this particular question as one that requires much preparation, though it definitely does. By taking some time to think about exactly what strengths you have you can align these directly with the job requirements. Honesty and confidence is also something to think about; as you should be prepared to confidently talk about your strengths once you have identified them.
Many people have difficulty talking about themselves in a positive way, but as long as the strengths have been identified and can be sufficiently supported by an explanation or example, there should be no real issues.
If you really struggle to think of any strengths or qualities, there is always the option to ask a friend or family member. This offers you a different perspective, and can even enlighten you to qualities you didn’t realise you had.
It’s also worth looking back at your career history, by re-reading your CV you can discover any common threads that point to something obvious, yet extremely usable. You can also take time to think about any times you received positive feedback or any type of praise, such as a thank you for work you had done or a copy of an appraisal or performance review.
Make a list
In the days leading up to the interview, it would be wise to practice talking about a few strengths you want to focus on, and determine which of them are likely to be the most effective. A long list of strengths and qualities should be shortened to a maximum of five, to be discussed in greater detail.
This list can include a mixture of points that are work specific along with some personality qualities. You may not talk about all of the points, but by having a list of possible strengths identified, you will have the ability and option to bring the remaining points into the interview wherever you feel is appropriate. It is important to be prepared to give examples to support your claims, and explaining why your strengths will benefit the company.