Interview Question: What Is Your Greatest Strength?

Best Ways to Answer Interview Questions About Your Strengths

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"What is your greatest strength?" may seem like one of the easier job interview questions you'll be asked. But for many candidates, it can be tricky—either they're too modest in their response or they fail to highlight on-target strengths. 

After all, the main reason interviewers ask this question is to identify if your strengths align with the needs of the company and the job's responsibilities. Your response will help the employer decide whether or not you are the strongest applicant for the position. That means if you're applying for an accounting job, it's not helpful to highlight your strength in event organization.  

When you are asked questions about your strengths, discuss attributes that will qualify you for the specific job and set you apart from the other candidates. It's also critical to show the interviewer that you have the qualities the employer is seeking in the applicant that they are going to hire. There are some strengths that all employers seek in the candidates they hire. Others will be specific to the job and the company.

How to Answer Interview Questions About Your Greatest Strength

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Mock Interview: "What is Your Greatest Strength?"

How should you answer questions about your strengths? The best way to respond is to describe the skills and experience that you have which directly correlate with the job you are applying for. Be prepared to answer by making a list of the qualifications mentioned in the job posting

Then, make a list of your skills that match those listed. This list can include education or training, soft skills, hard skills, or past work experiences. Narrow your list of skills down to between three and five particularly strong skills. Next to each skill, note an example of how you have used that strength in the past.

This will prepare you for when the employer asks you to elaborate on a particular strength. When you answer, you will be sharing strengths that match the qualifications the company is seeking. Also incorporate these power words that help make a good impression into your responses. The more closely your skills match the stated job qualifications, the more likely you'll be to get a job offer.

Examples of the Best Answers

Review these examples of answers, and tailor your responses to your credentials and the job requirements of the position.

  • I have an extremely strong work ethic. When I'm working on a project, I don't just want to meet deadlines. Rather, I prefer to complete the project well ahead of schedule. Last year, I even earned a bonus for completing my three most recent reports one week ahead of time.
  • I have extremely strong writing skills. Having worked as a copy editor for five years, I have strong attention to detail when it comes to my writing. I have also written for a variety of publications, so I know how to shape my writing style to fit the task and audience. As a marketing assistant, I will be able to effectively write and edit press releases and update web content with accuracy and ease.
  • I am a skilled salesman with over ten years of experience. I have exceeded my sales goals every quarter, and I've earned a bonus each year since I started with my current employer.
  • I pride myself on my customer service skills and my ability to resolve potentially difficult situations. With five years of experience as a customer service associate, I have learned to effectively understand and resolve customer issues. On a related note, I also have strong communication skills, which help me work well with customers, team members, and executives. I am known for being an effective team member with a talent for giving presentations.
  • My background as an English major will certainly help me succeed in the job. I restructured, edited, and wrote the employee newsletter for the hospital and brought the focus onto employee profiles and contributions. Our surveys indicated that the new format was more appreciated, more widely read by staff, and helped build morale. I also re-wrote major sections of the employee handbook to simplify the language.

Answers to Avoid

This is not the time to be humble. While you do not want to exaggerate your strengths, you should be comfortable articulating what makes you an ideal candidate. Creating a list of your strengths (as they relate to the job) will help you answer this question with confidence.

On the other hand, you do not want to answer this question with a laundry list of vague strengths. And you don't want to seem boastful or arrogant. Stay focused on a couple of key strengths that relate directly to the position and the company. A focused, relevant answer with one or two examples will impress your interviewer. 

Keep your answer to the point and focused on the attributes you will bring to the job. As with any interview answer, it's best not to ramble or speak for an eternity. Here are examples of answers that you shouldn't give.

Don't Say:

  • I am probably the most gifted applicant you will encounter. Everyone says that I am extremely intelligent, hard working, and a fabulous communicator.
  • My greatest strengths are writing, project management, quantitative research, event planning, budget development, and social media.
  • I'm a talented musician, the life of the party, and a great joke teller. I roll with the punches and don't take defeats too seriously.
  • I should tell you about the time when our fraternity was under pressure. The president had mismanaged some money and a lot of the brothers had gotten into trouble for hazing and partying too much. The Dean called all the officers into her office and they had a hearing about all our transgressions. I took over the leadership and turned things around, and we are now a well-respected fraternity with no problems.

    Prepare Responses to Related Interview Questions

    As a follow-up to being asked about your greatest strengths, you may be asked about how your greatest strengths helped your performance on the job. When you respond, relate your strengths to both the job description and your ability to perform at work. Take some time toreview other common interview questions about strengths and weaknesses, along with examples of answers.