“What’s your greatest strength?” is an often-used job interview question and is frequently paired with the greatest-weakness question.
This question is also an invitation to explain why you are the best-qualified candidate for this job.
If you are typically a modest person or not accustomed to bragging about yourself, get over it, at least for your job interviews.
If you don’t tell employers what your strengths are, they will never know.
100 Strengths for Interviews: Characteristics Employers Value
Look at this list, below, of characteristics that employers prefer for their employees. All are NOT appropriate for every job, so choose carefully.
Relate the characteristic you choose to the requirements of the job, with examples of how you have demonstrated this
strength in the past:
- Easy to manage
- Easy to work with
- Fast learner
- Fund raiser
- Good/great communicator
- Good/great negotiator
- Good/great verbal communicator
- Good/great with numbers
- Good/great writing
- Honest / trustworthy
- Motivated / motivational
- Team player
When you have accomplishments that can be verified through public media (LinkedIn or other media) or through discussions with your references, choose strengths that include those accomplishments.
Like good answers to the greatest weakness question, the answers to the greatest strength question also have three parts:
1. The strength.
If you aren’t sure of your strength or how to describe it, read How to Find Your Greatest Strength
2. Proof of the strength.
Share examples of the strength that demonstrate your qualifications for the job you are interviewing for.
3. The strength’s relevance to this job.
Connect the dots between your strength and their needs. Be sure to present strengths in terms of how they impact the employer.
Remember that this isn’t a date or a session with your best friend:
- Keep your answers short. Don’t talk for longer than 10 to 20 seconds. The interviewer isn’t interested in your life story.
- Respect your current and previous employers’ confidential information. You will be demonstrating your loyalty and ethics, which a new employer should appreciate.
- Focus on strengths relevant to the job and employer.
- Don’t choose irrelevant strengths, like your skill with knitting or dancing — unless those strengths are related to skills needed for the job.
- Don’t share too much information, particularly personal information about your family and your health.
Examples: Greatest Strength Answers
These are only examples. Use these as guides to help you develop your own answers.
Strength: People Person
Particularly for customer service and other customer-facing jobs, this one is a strength that employers love.
(Strength) “I enjoy interacting with people and helping them solve problems, both on the phone and also via email or electronic chatting/messaging.”
(Proof) “I’ve been an online customer service representative for over 5 years, and I really enjoy interacting with people. We are measured both on how satisfied people are after they’ve spoken with us, and also if they purchase additional products and services as a result of our interactions. I’m proud to say that I am usually among the leaders in our group, and have received at least two service rep of the month awards
(Relevance) “This job requires someone who is experienced helping customers with complex technical problems, and that experience will enable me to help your customers with their problems.”
Hopefully, your actions before, during, and after the interview demonstrate this strength.
This strength is obviously very important for management jobs and project/team leadership positions.
(Strength) “I pride myself on my leadership skills, something I was taught in my 3 years as a non-commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps.”
(Proof) “Leadership is necessary to keep project teams moving forward in the right direction. While nothing is as challenging as leading troops in battle, leading a 6- to 12-member project team is not easy. I’ve been an IT project manager for 5 years, managing 10 major projects in that time frame. All of those projects completed on schedule, met the customer’s requirements, and were considered successes. In addition, I was able to train 4 team members so they were promoted to project management positions.”
(Relevance) “Bringing projects in on-time, on-budget, and meeting both technical and business requirements is something I have been doing successfully for over 5 years, and I know that’s what you
The Bottom Line on Good Strengths for an Interview
Remember: This is not the time for modesty! Choose your strengths carefully, matching them to the requirements of the job, and then offer proof that you have those strengths.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.
Don't forget to share this article with friends!