You’ve spent weeks searching for jobs only to get very few responses. Finally, you land an interview for a job you really want, but you’re worried about how to answer, “what is your greatest strength?”
This question is all too common, but it doesn’t need to stress you out. We’ve all been there, and it’s okay to be nervous.
Luckily, understanding the purpose of this question can help. Not only that, but seeing examples and learning what makes them successful is particularly useful.
Read on to learn why you’ll get this question and how to answer it.
- Why Do Interviewers Ask “What Is Your Greatest Strength?”?
- How To Answer “What Is Your Greatest Strength?”
- Examples: How To Answer “What Is Your Greatest Strength?”
- Additional Tips for Impressing an Interviewer Asking What Is Your Greatest Strength?
- Additional Questions To Be Aware Of
- Wrapping Up
Why Do Interviewers Ask “What Is Your Greatest Strength?”?
Interviewers want to know if your strengths and skills align with the company’s needs. They also want to know if your strengths will come in handy in the position you’re interviewing for.
An interviewer may also ask this question to help compare applicants. You might have a very similar background to another candidate.
However, your strengths might vary, and that can help the hiring manager decide who to hire.
What Is the Interviewer Looking For?
All of the questions interviewers ask have a purpose. Some interviewers are looking for specific answers to filter out candidates who aren’t the perfect fit for the job. Your interviewer may look for the following when asking you about your strengths:
- Relevance to the position
- How it fits the needs of the company
- Whether you have a unique strength
Keep in mind what type of job you’re interviewing for and tailor your answer accordingly. For example, your friends and family may praise your cooking skills. But unless you’re interviewing with Gordon Ramsey or another chef, you don’t need to share that.
Instead, you might share that you can empathize with people. That way, you could show how you can help customers in a customer service or sales role.
In some cases, the interviewer may also look for more general skills, such as time management. General skills are useful in any role, and sharing them could help you land the job of your dreams.
Review the job description before your interview to get a sense of the best way to answer this question.
How To Answer “What Is Your Greatest Strength?”
It’s tempting to come up with a formulaic answer to “what is your greatest strength?” However, no two jobs, companies, or interviewers are the same.
The best thing you can do is give a specific, unique answer just for that job. Do your homework before the interview and learn about the job and company.
As you brainstorm your various strengths, you should relate anything you say back to the position, department, and company. Read over the job description again, and use the company website to learn about its mission.
Use those details to prepare for the interview overall but also to craft a compelling answer the hiring manager won’t forget.
What To Focus on When Answering This Question
The most important thing to cover is how your strength will help the employer. For this reason, relevance is crucial. When interviewing for an accounting position, share your knowledge of numbers or accounting software, for example.
If your biggest strength isn’t directly related to the job, you can still make it work. Share how that skill may be useful. Perhaps your biggest strength is your organizational skills, so you mention how you can use that to help the team organize documents.
No matter what strength you share, dive into an example of how it’s helped you. If you’re very organized, describe how that’s helped you in school or a prior job. The more details you can provide, the better the interviewer will understand how the strength will help them.
What To Avoid When Answering This Question
Avoid listing strengths that have zero to do with the job. You could be the best tennis player in your state, but that doesn’t matter if you’re not applying to be a tennis instructor.
Now, you could share how playing tennis has helped in other ways, such as time management or coordination.
You should also avoid using your answer to complain about a prior situation. While it’s helpful to give examples, keep them positive. The last thing you want is for the interviewer to think you’ll complain about any scenario that isn’t perfect.
Finally, avoid giving a cliche answer to this question. Saying you’re a team player or that you learn quickly is so common.
Those answers can make you come off as too rehearsed or too perfect, and it can be an easy way to bore the person interviewing you.
Examples: How To Answer “What Is Your Greatest Strength?”
Before you give an overused answer, think about your answer more. Reviewing a few examples won’t hurt either.
EXAMPLE ANSWER 1
“My greatest strength is my ability to empathize with others. As an example, I once spoke with a frustrated customer, and I was able to calm them down and help them find a solution.
I’m also able to adapt to new situations quickly, and that further helped me alleviate the problem with that particular customer. My adaptability even helped me learn a new customer service portal quickly, and I was able to help train my colleagues on how to use the system.”
Why This Answer Works
Being able to empathize with others is useful in almost any job. The applicant also gives an excellent example of how the skill has come into play for them.
Specifically, the example shows how the strength has helped their employer by making a customer happy.
Meanwhile, the second skill of adapting is another crucial skill in many fields. Once again, they give an example, this time regarding how it helped the team.
EXAMPLE ANSWER 2
“My greatest strength is my ability to plan my workday to help increase productivity. I’ve spent countless hours learning about my own chronotype and that I do my best work in the mornings. That experience has allowed me to get more work done in less time.
Additionally, I’ve used this strength to help my teammates find their rhythms to help the entire team be more productive. We’ve started scheduling meetings at times that work for everyone rather than a select few.”
Why This Answer Works
This answer is a novel way to explain how one is organized and good at time management. But instead of using those words, the answer goes deeper and more specific. The candidate explains how their organizational skills have helped them get more done.
They even continue and share how they’ve helped their colleagues with productivity. That way, the whole department can do their best work to increase the company’s chance of success.
EXAMPLE ANSWER 3
“My biggest strength is my ability to learn new skills, technology, and systems efficiently. In my last role, I was chosen to help train my team on a new bank transaction processing system.
As the trainer, I obtained extra training and assisted my colleagues in their initial use of the new system to improve productivity and decrease customer wait times.”
Why This Answer Works
This answer is tailored to the banking industry, so it’s a great option for someone looking for a promotion. It also rephrases the cliche “fast learner” answer and gives an amazing example of how the strength has helped the candidate and their employer.
The answer is still general enough to give the interviewer an idea of how the strength may play out in the new role. Plus, it gives concrete examples of how the strength was useful, including how it improved customer satisfaction.
Additional Tips for Impressing an Interviewer Asking What Is Your Greatest Strength?
The next time someone asks about your strengths, don’t be afraid to go all out with your answer. Going the extra mile could set you apart from other candidates, even if your top strength is a bit common.
Do Your Homework
Before the interview, figure out what the company is looking for in an employee. Learn about the specific role as well as the greater mission and vision of the company. Compare that to your list of strengths to help choose a few to focus on in your answer.
For example, if they’re missing a creative person on the marketing team, consider how you can fill that void. Then, tailor your answer as needed when you’re in the interview.
When giving examples of how your strengths have helped, share numbers. Maybe your empathy has helped decrease customer complaints and increased sales. While generic information is fantastic, sharing concrete data is even better.
Just make sure you don’t break any confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements. However, if those aren’t a concern, you can share as much data as you need.
Follow Up Later
One of the best things you can do is to follow up afterward, every time. After you leave the interview, send the interviewer a thank you email.
You can also use the email to reinforce the strengths you mentioned in the meeting. Mention something you enjoyed about the interview as well to help stand out from the other applicants. Address the interviewer by name in your email, and send the email as soon as possible.
Additional Questions To Be Aware Of
You have the perfect answer regarding your best strength, and you think you have this interview in the bag. Not so fast; consider a few more ubiquitous interview questions you can almost always expect.
- Why Are You a Great Match for This Role?: This question helps determine what makes you the best person for the specific job.
- What Is Your Greatest Weakness?: This question can help interviewers learn what may keep you from succeeding.
- What Are You Passionate About?: This question lets you discuss what makes you tick, and it can help uncover your career goals.
- What Can You Bring to the Company?: This question gives you the opportunity to share why you want to work for them.
- Tell Me About a Time You Failed: This question allows the interviewer to learn how you react when you fail and how you move on.
“What is your greatest strength?” It’s an interview question that can make you think quite a bit about yourself, and your answer could make or break your interview.
Be sure to consider why you may get asked this question and what interviewers want to learn. Review some example answers to help brainstorm points you need to cover in your upcoming interview.
Then, you may have a better shot at getting your dream job.