Skilled HR managers and interviewers can recognize your strengths and weaknesses, from the way you talk, look, shake hands, and answer any question they ask you in an interview. But they may still ask you about your strengths, to see whether you are humble, confident, or over-confident, and whether you can actually tell your strengths (which is important, because without knowing our strengths, we would struggle to choose the right career).
Having said that, people who are just starting to work in human resources, or interviewers who do not really know what they are doing (we can still find many of them, in all kinds of corporations) will actually ask you this question to get an idea of your strengths…
Simple 3-steps process of finding a great answer to the question
- Look at the job description. Try to identify three or four abilities that are crucial for the job. For customer service (example) it would be communication skills, sales skills, and understanding for the customer. For process engineer it would be attention to details, responsibility, creativity, and knowledge of their field of engineering.
- Compare the strengths with your own personality. And if you can not compare it, or if you feel like having all the strengths (or none of them) ask a friend, or someone else, who is honest with you, to help you with identifying your real strengths and weaknesses.
- Once you understand your strengths that happen to be essential for the job of your choice (or at least important), you can prepare your answer to the question. Do not forget to mention that you always try to improve on your strengths, that you do your best to stay on the top of the game…
Your interview presence matters
Even if you recognize the right strengths and present them in your answer, you will still have to back it up–with your interview presence. Think about the following for a while:
- If you mention punctuality, you should come on time.
- If your strength is attention to detail, you should present it in all your interview answers – speaking about details of your personality, experience, past jobs, details that matter to the employer.
- If you mention communication skills, you should demonstrate them in an interview, talking to the point, listening well, having understanding for the things they say to you, etc.
Talking about a strength and convincing us that you really have it are two different things. If you are not sure how to convince us, I suggest you to stay humble, and say that you still have to work on many things in your career.
You can decide to let us to recognize your strengths, in the course of an interview with you (humility can actually be one of these strengths, and honesty definitely is a strength, regardless of the job you try to get).
Sample Answers to the interview question about your strengths
If you find my guide hard to follow, or perhaps just need some inspiration before you compose your own answer, have a look at the samples below.
Each sample answer is intended for certain position and situation in an interview. Try to find the one that relates the most to your present situation, and use it as a foundation stone for creating your own answer.
Fresh graduate, applying for an entry level job in an international corporation
My biggest strength is probably my passion for work, and my motivation to learn and grow professionally. Everything is new for me right now, I feel excited, ready to learn and do my best. If we talk about my character, I’d point out a strong sense for responsibility and an ability to teamwork. I hope I can utilize my strengths in your company, on a position of a marketing trainee.
Special Tip: Question about your strengths is not the most difficult question you will face in your interview. Check our Interview Success Package for fantastic answers to all difficult interview questions. Written especially for fresh graduates and people who apply for their very first job. Thank you for checking it out!
Woman applying for a job of a sales representative
I consider my communication skills, and understanding for other people, my greatest strengths. I read a lot of books on human psychology and on customer behavior, trying to learn how to connect with all kinds of prospects, and how to turn them to customers.
My friends would say that I am intelligent and a good companion for any conversation, but I prefer to let other people to consider this. One way or another, I know that there is still a room to improve, and I continue studying and practicing, trying to become even a better saleswoman.
Young man applying for a manual labor on a farm
I can work independently, I am physically strong, and I do not mind working outside for a long time. I also believe that I understand what you try to achieve on this farm, how you try to promote sustainable agriculture, which resonates with my personal values. Nevertheless, I know I have a lot of things to learn, I am motivated, and I see my future in agriculture.
Special Tip no. 2: Download all sample answers in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answer anytime later:
Woman in her late fifties, trying to get a job of an assistant principal after losing her teaching job
My experience is my greatest strength. I have been working as a teacher for the past thirty years, teaching at four different schools, two different school districts. I worked with all kinds of students and education administrators, and I believe that I have gained a great understanding for the ins and outs of a daily life at school.
I would also say that I am responsible, easy to talk to and cooperate with, and open minded. I hope to get a chance to prove my strengths and skills, working at this elementary school.
(* check also all interview questions for assistant principals)
Software developer trying to get his first job, after working as a freelancer for a couple of years
I can work independently, and I can complete a project from scratch – something I’ve learned in my freelancing experience. I can also look at the work from the point of view of my clients, trying to understand what they want to achieve with their work, and keeping these goals on my mind while developing the software. I always try to develop for the final user.
Judging by references my customers left on my profile at Freelancer, excellent communication and delivering work on time are my other strengths. I hope to keep them in the next stage of my career.
* Do not forget to check also: How to overcome interview nerves – Get rid of anxiety and deliver your best in an interview.
Social worker job applicant
My biggest strength is probably my knowledge of the target group. I have a brother with down syndrome, so I understand exactly how to work with these people, how to help them integrate, get a job, and I also feel for them.
Regarding my character strengths, I’d prefer to leave it for you to judge. I do not like to boast about my skills or abilities. After talking to me in this interview, you will surely easily evaluate my communication skills, and other things that matter for this job.
* For 7 sample answers to this question, check: Social work interview – What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Woman who tries to get a hotel receptionist job
Communication skills are definitely my greatest strength. I can speak four languages, and I have also a good understanding for the people I talk to, I can read their emotions and sometimes even their wishes, from the way they talk, look, and gesticulate.
I also believe to be responsible, loyal, and friendly. Of course we should never be satisfied with ourselves, and we learn all life long. I try to reflect on my work regularly, looking for areas of improvement.
Man applying for a job of an assistant manager
I would say that my leadership skills stand out. I can connect with other people, I can gain their trust, and that makes it much easier for me to manage them, and to lead them towards the goals we want to achieve in the company.
I have also a good knowledge of human psychology and theoretical management, and can transfer this knowledge to practical work. What is more, I have a good understanding of this industry, and believe that it will help me to do this job well.
Conclusion and next steps
Each of us has some strengths, regardless of what your parents, friends, teachers think… You are good in something, and you should have confidence in your ability to help the company to prosper.
Show us that you understand the things that matter for the position you try to get, show us that you have the strengths in you. But remember that your words have to correspond with your interview presence. If the two did not correspond, we would doubt your trustworthiness, and would not hire you for the job…
Continue your interview preparation:
- Restaurant interview – What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Customer service interview – What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Bank teller interview – What are your strengths and weaknesses?