Interview Question: "What Is Your Greatest Strength?"
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Answering the question "What is your greatest strength?" during a job interview can give candidates an opportunity to highlight their skills and accomplishments. If candidates can prepare a high-quality response, they might show hiring managers how their greatest strength can help them succeed in a job position. By learning how to form an effective answer, you can increase your confidence about an upcoming interview. In this article, we explain why interviewers ask this question, describe the steps for how to answer it, provide example answers you can review and list some tips to help you prepare a response.
Why do interviewers ask "What is your greatest strength?"
Interviewers ask this question to assess if an individual's core strengths align with the requirements of a job position. They often value answers that demonstrate how your strengths and key attributes might help you excel in a role. Employers also use this question to evaluate your knowledge of a company's primary goals and the position itself, as this information can reveal how much background research you conducted before the interview date.
How to answer "What are your greatest strengths?" during an interview
Consider following these key steps to answer this question effectively during an interview:
1. Reflect on your skill sets
Schedule some time to reflect on your capabilities that relate to your desired job position. Consider rereading your submitted CV to better recall the information you sent to an employer, then determine a few additional options so you can present new material to an interviewer. If you attended a university in the past five years, you can review your coursework to identify more knowledge to include in your response. It may be helpful to list these capabilities in a bulleted list format, either on a notepad or in a digital document to refer to later.
Related: How To Prepare for an Interview
2. Align your skills to a job description
Review the job description to recall the hiring manager's preferred qualifications. Then, return to your list and choose three to five skills that reflect this criterion most strongly. For example, if you're applying for a position in a creative industry, it may be helpful to emphasise strengths like originality, adaptability and attention to detail. If you're pursuing a management role, you might emphasise your leadership, organisation and teamwork capabilities. Be mindful to use the same keywords listed in a job description to align your skill sets thoroughly.
3. Pick specific examples
Select a few anecdotes that illustrate how you applied your skill sets in a previous job position or class environment. Recent graduates can also describe how you plan to use your strengths in a job position, emphasising a desire to increase your skills during your career. Consider using an example where your greatest strength helped you resolve a situation, benefitting the company. It may be helpful to expand upon your bulleted list to include these details.
4. Prepare your response
Use your list of strengths and examples to craft an outline of your response. This approach can help you convey information to an interviewer clearly and logically, which may also indicate communication skills. Consider using the STAR interview method to help you structure your examples and develop a more focused response overall. Here are the four parts of the STAR method:
Situation: In the first part of your response, explain the circumstances of your example. Be mindful to emphasise the most relevant details so a hiring manager can better understand the context.
Task: Specify why you accomplished a certain task. For example, a supervisor may have assigned you a project to complete or a colleague might have request assistance.
Action: Demonstrate how you accomplished a task or resolved an issue using your greatest strength in a step-by-step process. Be sure to highlight moments where you made critical decisions.
Result: Describe how your actions created a positive result. Afterwards, you can discuss how this experience helped develop your strengths for the future.
Here are some example responses you can refer to while preparing for an interview:
Content creator example
Here's an example of a response when interviewing for a writing-based role:
"As a content manager, my greatest strength is my knowledge of content management systems, including how to use their key features and incorporate SEO keywords. In my last job position, the marketing team's productivity decreased by 5% over three months. As the team had a few new employees, my supervisor instructed me to lead a seminar on how to use the company's CMS, including ways to track analytics and SEO efforts. I developed a high-quality presentation and led an hour-long practice session afterwards to address any concerns, which resulted in a 15% increase in productivity in the next month."
Here's an example of a response when interviewing for a manager's role in any industry:
"I believe my greatest strength is my perceptiveness, as I've developed an ability to understand my employees' emotions by noticing changes in body language and facial expressions. In March of last year, the sales department experienced a high turnover rate because of low morale. The district manager asked me to investigate the situation, so I scheduled one-on-one meetings with all relevant personnel and discovered they were all upset by a recent policy change that limited their shift schedules. As a result, the company changed this policy and turnovers decreased by 79% in a month."
Customer service industry
Here's an example of a response when interviewing for a job position in the customer service industry:
"Conflict resolution is my greatest strength as a customer service employee, as my five years of experience have taught me how to build positive relationships with customers and resolve any issues that may arise. For example, in my previous job position, a customer disputed a charge on their bill and began speaking sternly to a server. To address the situation, I listened intently to the customer's perspective. After verifying the bill was correct, I explained our pricing policy to the customer in a calm and friendly manner, resulting in a positive rapport by the end of our conversation."
Recent university graduate example
Here's an example of a response when interviewing as a recent university graduate:
"My greatest strength is my ability to multitask effectively. While studying at the University of Hong Kong in my last semester, I had to balance coursework from four different classes, including my thesis project. At the beginning of the semester, I devised a rigorous schedule to ensure I complete high-quality coursework for all my classes.
Over the next six months, I had to re-write my plan several times to accommodate new situations, like a family emergency, and renegotiate how long certain assignments took to finish. As a result, I gained critical skills in multi-tasking that I continue to complete simultaneous tasks in job positions."
Experienced employee example
Here's an example of a response when interviewing for a leadership position in any industry:
"My greatest strength is my adaptability. After ten years in this profession, I understand deeply that some situations require you to change your perspective and consider new solutions. For example, in my last job position, one of my clients changed their mind about a project aspect after my team already completed it.
As we always strive to meet customer specifications, I negotiated a comprise and scheduled an extra week to assemble personnel and redo this component with the same quality standards it had beforehand. The resulting work thrilled my client, who gave me a five-star review on the company's website in response."
Tips for answering "What is your biggest strength?" during an interview
Consider the following tips for answering this question:
Use powerful language. It's important to consider your language choices when interviewing for a job position. Consider using words like enthusiastic or motivated to better support the information you include and to show your dedication to a career path.
Provide accurate information. Focus on the facts to present in your example so you can provide the most accurate representation of your greatest strength. Hiring managers may value having a clear understanding of how you might accomplish tasks and resolve situations in a new workplace.
Include character-based strengths. It may be helpful to describe skills that show your professional qualities besides your industry-based knowledge or proficiencies. You might discuss interpersonal capabilities or an aptitude for teamwork.
Remain concise. When developing your response, be mindful to include about four to five sentences. Hiring managers often appreciate an answer that provides all necessary information in a shorter timeframe, as they can ask more questions about your qualifications during an interview's remaining minutes.
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