How to Answer the ‘What Is Your Greatest Strength?’ Interview Question

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As an interview question, ‘What is your greatest strength?’ is commonly asked by hiring managers across many jobs and industries. This article will show you how to prepare an effective answer to the ‘greatest strength’ question. 

Why employers ask, ‘What is your greatest strength?’

An interviewer asking you about your greatest strength provides you with an open-ended opportunity to highlight your best skills and abilities and to explain how you can bring value to their company. Employers use this question to ensure your capabilities and strengths match well with the job responsibilities if you’re hired. Therefore, it’s important to make your response relevant to the position you’re interviewing for. 

How to determine your strengths

Here are some steps you can follow to help you identify your strengths:

1. First, start by developing a list of your strengths

While you’re brainstorming, don’t take too much time evaluating everything you write down. Part of the process is simply to get some ideas on paper. Once you’ve got your list, you can spend more time thinking about which strengths best coincide with your career interests, while also being most relevant to the company. 

Don’t worry if you find this part challenging. Some of your strengths might be attributes you haven’t consciously cultivated, even if you regularly demonstrate them. This is especially likely with soft skills that relate to emotional intelligence. Be sure to add each idea to your list.

2. Second, ask friends, family or trusted coworkers for their opinions about your best attributes

If you have coworkers or friends you trust to give you a relatively unbiased answer, ask them what they see as your greatest strengths. You might be overly critical of yourself and may not realize how well you do something, so this is where talking with others will be helpful. 

3. Third, consider performance reviews from your previous supervisors

Reflect on past performance evaluations and discussions with supervisors. What strengths came up in these evaluations and discussions? Were there weaknesses you turned into strengths over time? You can also find indirect evidence of what supervisors see as your strengths by the tasks they assign you. If you’re chosen to mentor a new employee, you are probably seen as someone particularly skilled in your job tasks and someone with good communication and people skills. 

4. Then, reflect on feedback from your teachers or other mentors

People outside of your professional life may have helped you identify your strengths as well. Think about what your past interactions with teachers and mentors might say about your strengths. 

5. Lastly, think about your current role

Another tactic for identifying strengths is to think about what you enjoy the most at work. People often enjoy things because they’re good at them. Even if the task itself might not seem particularly exciting, there’s enjoyment in competence and accomplishment. What you enjoy most at work is likely representative of your strengths. What makes you feel most accomplished and proud at work? If team members were being solicited for various tasks, which ones would you volunteer for?

How to answer, ‘What is your greatest strength?’

Once you’ve determined what your strengths are, and which ones are relevant to your interview, follow these steps to answer the ‘greatest strength’ question with confidence: 

1. First, find the right tone of voice

Even though people may want to impress an employer with their skills and qualifications, thus earning a job offer, being asked ‘What is your greatest strength?’ may make a lot of candidates uncomfortable. To many, responding honestly may feel like bragging. However, having control over the tone of the response is crucial here. Your tone of voice reveals your underlying feelings about what you’re saying. You may sound bored, curious, enthused or happy. In fact, it’s for this reason that people often value tone over content when interpreting someone’s words. 

If you find a topic for this question that not only represents your strengths but your interests as well, you’ll find that a positive tone is more natural. Everyone loves talking about things they find interesting, and your strengths very likely coincide with your interests and best personality traits. This may actually end up being one of the most enjoyable interview questions to answer.  

2. Second, develop examples of your strengths

Once you’ve spent time brainstorming what your strengths are, you’ll need to consider some concrete examples of things you’ve done that highlight your strengths. The process of brainstorming should have you well on your way to coming up with compelling examples of your strengths. This is an important step in keeping your answer from feeling generic. These examples personalize your response and provide evidence to back up your claim. 

Your interviewer will also want to see what these strengths mean to you. How you define ‘good communicator,’ ‘team player,’ ‘motivated’ or any other strength will illustrate your understanding of that quality and what you value in your own job performance. 

3. Finally, explain how you can apply your strengths in the new role

To get the most out of this interview question, be ready to talk about how you intend to apply your strengths, as illustrated by your examples, in your new job. To make a natural transition between your examples from the past and your future plans, focus on strengths relevant to the company you’re interviewing with. This will help you show you’re a good fit and how you’re already thinking of yourself in this new role. 

The job description is an important tool to help you decide how you can apply your strengths at the new company. What strengths correspond to the employer’s needs? Aside from this, think about what your role would be and whom you would interact with. How can you use your strengths to benefit the company, your coworkers and your clients?

This is an especially important part of your response if you’re interviewing for a job outside of your usual field. If you’re branching out into something new, your past examples might not seem directly relevant to the new position. Don’t just assume the interviewer will make the connection. Directly explain your plans for applying your strengths to your new position.