How to Answer the Interview Question: What Are Your Greatest Strengths?

Intern candidate in interview
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When interviewing for any internship or job, first impressions are vital before any questions are asked. Start and end your interview on a strong note with a smile, direct eye contact, strong handshake, and a statement such as, "It is so nice to meet you and thank you for taking the time to meet with me to discuss this exciting opportunity.

Practice, practice, practice is the best way to prepare for an interview and the questions that will be asked. Try to predict the questions that you are likely to be asked and practice your responses with someone else playing the role of the interviewer. Some questions are highly predictable, "What are your greatest strengths?" being one of them. Since this question is often paired with the greatest weakness question, you will want to be fully prepared to answer both questions.

Tips for Answering the "What Are Your Greatest Strengths?"

Understanding what the aim of a question is can help you to formulate a better answer. In this case, the company is trying to determine whether you a good candidate for the position and if you are a good fit for the organization? Because you might not be a good fit, which would be undesirable for both you and the company, you should answer honestly and not try to be someone you are not. That said, you should emphasize the strengths that you think are most valuable to the company or organization.

How can you know what is most valuable to the employer? Read the entire job description carefully to fully understand the position and the required qualifications. Research the company website to understand the company, its mission, products, the services it offers, and the clientele it serves. Take a look at the company's LinkedIn pages and those of its employees and see if you can determine their skills and the type of culture the firm promotes.

Prepare a list of your strengths and your accomplishments including examples of how you apply those strengths. Then, decide which ones are most relevant for the company. Your career counselor at college, your network, or your LinkedIn search might reveal possible contacts within the company that you could get in touch with to get some insights.

Make a Lasting Impression

Ideally, your interviewer will remember you long after the interview is over. That means that you should try to stand out in some way and not give rote answers to common questions. Emphasize you unique attributes, and try to link them to the company's operations. For example, you might be a keen and accomplished coder, and you are interested in the new software products that the firm is developing.

Answer the question by identifying keywords the employer will associate with you once the interview is over. Try to be original rather than use cliches such as "reliable," "trustworthy," and "detail oriented." Your goal is to set yourself apart from other candidates. For your greatest strengths, you might provide a humorous anecdote that illustrates those strengths.

Providing the employer with a list of your strengths that are not relevant to the job will detract from the short period you have to sell yourself. Even if you are an excellent photographer or are certified to teach sailing, if these skills are not relevant to the job, it is better to stick to relevant skills that the employer will remember.