Part 1: “What Are Your Greatest Strengths?”
Over the years and for your benefit, we have spent a lot of time in research. We have listened and learned from many hiring managers and other decision makers. Our findings have led us to what truly works best in helping a job candidate prepare for the interview process, and we want to take the next several weeks to really emphasize the top 5 most important questions that are commonly asked.
To kick it off, let’s talk about the golden interview question, the one which you can guarantee will be heard. And, it sounds so simple. I mean, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves? Even if you take the modest approach, everyone finds it rather relaxing to answer a question that allows you to pump yourself up a bit, to share why exactly you are so great and will be an asset to the company. But, you might be surprised at how often candidates get tongue-tied by this question. It’s like, all of a sudden, you lose your words in explaining that which comes to you so naturally!
We’re here to shed some light on a few helpful hints that will work together to help you avoid that moment. We do not want to see that job interview as a failure for you, and, thankfully, the key to the success of it is largely within your grasp.
Let’s start by learning to evaluate yourself, developing a list of your strengths. You want to gather a solid list of three to five strengths. The same strength will not necessarily always work with every job opportunity, even in the same company, so you want to have a list to choose from. These strengths should speak to the qualities about yourself that come easily to you and bring benefit to those around you. These strengths can typically be categorized as Knowledge-Based Skills, Transferable Skills, or Personal Traits. Basically, you need to know where from these skills originate. Is it a unique quality that you were born with, such as being friendly or expressive? Or is it a strength that you gained from your degree and educational experience? Understanding yourself first will help in relaying that particular strength to the hiring manager.
Secondly, you need to keep in mind the question behind the question. The ultimate concern in asking about your greatest strengths is really determining whether or not you are a good candidate for this job. Do your strengths align with the job opening? Will you be the right fit for this company? Having this ultimate question in the back of your head throughout the interview allows you to tailor your answers accordingly. When describing your strengths and assets, you want to use words that appeal to the job specifically. Highlighting the award that you received three years ago at your former company may mean nothing to the hiring manager, whereas discussing the positive performance review that you had six months ago may be very telling of the same skills you can bring to this new job. Knowing what sort of characteristics the employer is looking for ahead of time will help you in knowing how to write down exactly how you want to express yourself and your strengths.
Lastly, you should ALWAYS be ready to back up your greatest strengths with specific examples. Instead of just describing yourself as tenacious, give a specific example from a former scenario within your work environment that proved your tenacity. Being a detailed and successful problem solver is a great strength to have, but let the hiring manager know about that one particular time when you handled that very messy problem with ease and triumph. These examples speak volumes, and you should have great confidence in them. You need to share your greatest strengths with authority and be able to carry those away with you intact, regardless of the outcomes along your path.