How to Answer the “Strengths” Interview Question

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

One of the standard interview questions across all industries and roles is: “What are your greatest strengths?” The format of the question varies, but the premise is the same. The recruiter or hiring manager wants to know what you bring to the table that is valuable, and distinct from skills offered by other candidates. Answering the “strengths” question effectively requires planning, strategy and confidence.

The Right Perspective

A question about your strengths is not an invitation from the recruiter or hiring manager for you to brag about all of your wonderful qualities. In fact, some people do not answer with confidence because they struggle with the notion of bragging. Instead, think about the hiring manager’s motive for asking the question. They want to know what makes you qualified for the position.

The right perspective means you answer with empathy for the employer’s needs. The company needs a worker that fits into the culture, the department and the job. Answer with these needs in mind.

Conducting a Strengths Inventory

Prior to the interview, conduct a strengths inventory. Write down every skill or quality you possess. Next, compare your skills and qualities to the job posting. List the required and desired qualities from the position description. Compare your strengths to the desired qualities list. Identify three to four particular strengths that fit the best with the company and position.

Practice Your Response

Have a friend role play the interview and ask you variations of the “strengths” question. Practice a concise, impacting response. Note three specific strengths and offer brief examples for each. The examples prove that you have the strengths and have put them into action. For example, you might say “I have exceptional customer service skills. During the last quarter in my current position, I received a 98 percent customer satisfaction rating.”

Aim for a close alignment between strength and example to the requirements of the job. A hiring manager is trying to understand he should hire you. Help by showing how you have the right skills and qualities to ensure successful performance of tasks similar to those he needs completed.


“Why should I hire you?” is one of the main underlying questions for all hiring managers in evaluating a candidate. Your ability to convey impacting strengths is a major factor in getting him to focus on you as the best fit. Not only should you have a plan for conveying strengths in response to a direct question, you should focus on infusing your core qualities throughout the interview to establish a consistent theme.

Do you need assistance to prepare for your next job interview? Contact the experienced Career Consultants at Résumés for Results to find out about how we can assist you to stand out with our Interview Coaching services.

To learn more about the writer, Jeanette Hannan [click here].