One of the most common questions that arise in the interview process is “what are your strengths?” These four words make candidates feel under pressure, and they create a challenge that may prevent you from obtaining your dream job.

Answering this question is difficult, and many people struggle to find the correct tone. You don’t want to come across as arrogant, because no candidate is perfect but equally, if you are too humble, you may hide your talents in a manner that means the interviewer doesn’t think you are suitable for the role.

Interviewers like this question because it places candidates on the spot, it requires them to be analytical and self-critical, and it allows people to talk about qualities they offer and intend to bring to the role.


Be proud of your achievements

There is nothing wrong with being proud of an achievement, but you need to make sure you can discuss yourself relevantly and in a way that details your strengths. Before you reach the interview, you should be aware of your strengths and have examples of how you developed these strengths and when you have used them.

If you can pinpoint areas where your strengths come in handy or are effective at achieving results, you indicate you are aware of what is around you, and how best to deal with problems as and when they arise.

It is sensible to familiarise yourself with the job description and highlight the essential requirements. If you can align your strengths with the critical elements of the role, you will position yourself as a suitable candidate. If a job description looks for a candidate who will engage with various departments, the interview process is looking for a candidate who has communication and interpersonal skills.

Therefore, if you offer stories where your communication and interpersonal skills have resolved problems or helped you achieve success, you provide the interviewer with what they want to learn from a candidate.


Know where your strengths lie

You should create a list of strengths, up to five, and create examples and stories which signify these strengths. In the interview process, quality trumps quantity, but given you don’t know the questions in advance, creating five practical answers provides you with the flexibility to answer any question.

While the job description may suggest one strength or competency area is more highly prized than others, it is helpful to show you are flexible when it comes to strengths. Even if the role relates to particular knowledge-based skills, such as a qualification, a computer skill or a language; this is just one part of the position.

You need to show strengths that not only refer to the technical aspect of the job but which also proves you can work with others or that you can deal with stress and pressure. Having one significant strength is good, but having a range of strengths will position you as a suitable candidate.

Some quick tips to remember when asked about strengths include:

• Don’t be vague, be specific with details in your example
• Don’t rhyme off a long list of strengths
• Make sure your strengths are relevant for the role

If you are struggling to think of strengths, ask someone who knows you well for pointers and develop answers from there.

Knowing your strengths and confidently conveying them is an essential part of the interview process. If you require any guidance or help in the interview process, contact The Recruiting Office, and we’ll be happy to help.