How to Explain Your Strengths in a Job Interview

How to Explain Your Strengths in a Job Interview

An interview is basically a sales call. You are the product, and you are trying to get someone to buy you. You need to explain your strengths. If you can’t sell your key professional strengths and you don’t know your value, it is very hard for someone else to see why you are great.

So, whether you are interviewing for a new position with a new company or trying to get a promotion within your current company, you must build up your confidence and know exactly why you deserve the job, promotion or raise you are seeking.

What are your strengths?

This is one of the most likely interview questions today. As a leadership coach, I love this question. The interviewer is asking, "Why are you great?”

Most interviewers will ask this question directly because it makes people think. When you explain your strengths correctly it shows character, talent, and personality. It can do the opposite if it is not delivered correctly.

Building your confidence

Now, to explain your key professional strengths, you must be confident. Confidence is neither arrogant nor egotistical. I’m referring to genuine confidence that is supported by facts. This type of confidence is authentic and humbling. So you are not technically “selling” anyone anything. You are just being yourself and owning your greatness when you explain your strengths. Not everyone can own their greatness and that is why it is one of the more likely interview questions to be asked.

Check out these 5 words to avoid to gain confidence in job interviews.

The easiest way to own your greatness is to create a list of your "Top 20 Best Qualities”.  The trick is to keep your list balanced with both professional and personal character traits that make you great. If you struggle to make this list, think about what people would say about you.

What would your current boss or colleagues say? Your mom or dad? Your significant other? Think about a child in your life. What would they say? Are you funny, friendly, loving, active, supportive?

Words to help you explain your strengths

  • Thoughtful
  • Good Communicator
  • Good Listener
  • Team Player
  • Thinks Outside the Box
  • Fun
  • Visionary
  • Influential
  • Trustworthy
  • Relatable
  • Kind
  • Creative

Take your confidence to the next level. Read your list out loud or in front of a mirror five times in this  format, “I am {insert your word here}.”  

When you complete your list, end the activity with “I am great”. Practice this until you no longer feel uncomfortable saying it. This exercise will ensure you take full ownership of your greatness and the words on this list.

Pick your key professional strengths

Now that we know why you are great and there is no doubt you deserve this position, let's identify two or three words that will make you the most successful if given the opportunity. These will be the specific traits to share when asked, “What are your strengths?

Do your research to maximize impact. Read over the job description to find the traits they desire. If you are working with a recruiter, ask what the hiring manager specifically desires in a candidate.

Or better yet, when you are in your first interview ask the hiring manager what traits the ideal candidate needs in order to be successful in this role. This will give you some great ammo to use throughout the rest of the interview.

Explain your strengths with stories

Once you know the two or three strengths that you want to highlight, think of a story, experience or example that shows how these traits will add value to the company of interest. Make sure you don’t get lost in your story. Keep it short and sweet, yet specific.

Three tips to help you maximize your impact while creating your stories

Create a bigger picture

Storytelling is all about painting a picture.  As you highlight one of your super strengths I encourage you to create a story that includes a minimum of four to five additional strengths. This helps the interviewer to see how great you are without having to list out all of your strengths.

Get curious

To make a good response great, end your statement with a question that can help you learn about the current team or company. This shows you are interested in them, and it shows that you have the ability to gather information when needed. It also adds to the humbleness that comes with genuine confidence. Your ultimate goal is not to steal the show, but instead, add value to the organization and team.

Connect the dots

If there is an opportunity to relate your response to the company, team, or client, don't hesitate to make the connection. Doing this can help the interviewer visualize you in the company and on the team.

How to answer using the tips listed above

“I am a good communicator. I love to learn about each team member. My ultimate goal is to understand their wants and needs so I can build the respect and trust needed to work effectively with each of them. I encourage everyone to speak up and share their ideas and concerns. The more we communicate the easier it is to navigate through difficult conversations and challenges that may arise. Building a strong team is very important to me. With that in mind, can you tell me about the different personalities of the team members I’ll be working with?”

As you can see, this response not only says I’m a good communicator, but it also highlights that I build trust, I am a good team player, I encourage collaboration, and I proactively think about ways to work through challenges. The question at the end creates a personal touch for the interviewer to be able to share about the team I’m interviewing for and shows that I actually care about the people that I will be working with.

When you are creating your stories, experiences, and examples, focus on the bigger message. Remember, the best way for someone to identify your greatness is by hearing or experiencing the traits within a dialogue. For example, if you are a fun and playful person, don’t tell them. Show them throughout the entire meeting. Fun is energy. It’s positive, and it lightens the mood for everyone.

As you continue to prepare for those likely interview questions, remember your list of strengths. You are the best candidate for this job, so make sure that every question you answer you highlight all of your excellent skills with stories and experiences.

Don’t just focus on your resume

Be relatable. In today’s business environment, organizations tend to concentrate just as much on the culture of the team as they do the skills of the team members. Choose your impact and then consciously create it.

I wish you the best of luck!

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