How to Answer the #1 Interview Question

What is the number interview question?

“What are your strengths?”

“Uhhh” and “well” should not be a part of your vocabulary when answering this question.

Why is this question asked?

Well, for starters, the interviewer needs to know if you will be able to perform well in the position and if you are compatible with the team.

  • Do your strengths align with the company’s needs?
  • Can you perform the job well Are you the best available option?
  • Do you have qualities, skills and/or experience that will set you apart from the competition?
  • Are you someone who will make an excellent addition to the team?
Source: Glass Door

Source: Glass Door

Common Mistakes

Too many people think this is an easy question, but it is only easy if you really know how to answer it and how to answer it well. This is the opportune time for you to brag about yourself. You do know yourself, right?

  •  Be sure your strengths correlate with the job you are going for. If you do not know your strengths, keep reading because we will discuss a strength seeking activity.
  • Do NOT be modest. Brag as much as you can. Remember: you are selling yourself to the interviewer. If you get nervous – prepare in advance. You can brag in a way that seems modest and natural with practice.
  • Do not choose lame strengths. Lame strengths can make you seem bland and unoriginal. They will not set you a part from the rest of the competition, therefore making you an unlikely candidate for the position.

How to talk about strengths.

Nothing but feeling comfortable with your answer and applying it to yourself with examples can give you a smooth, confident appearance.

  • Practice, practice, practice!
  • Give examples.
  • Apply a personal story or two!

Choosing your Strengths with Strengths Finder 2.0

It begins from birth and follows us into the workplace. It is human nature to practice what we lack until competence is obtained. “Strengths Finder 2.0”, a book by Tim Rath, suggests otherwise.

“We tend to devote more time to our shortcomings than to our strengths,” Tim Rath.

Sometimes people can be unsure or just utterly wrong about a strength they believe they possess. Without having to go through the tedious process of trial and error and irreversible mistakes, “Strength Finder 2.0” can give you an accurate valuation on your top five strengths.

The book is a small read that informs you how to focus on your wellbeing and finding your strengths. After reading, you will take an assessment where you will have 20 seconds to answer each question. The assessment measures your five strengths (and weaknesses) based on how you answer the questions given.

Gradually, companies are beginning to adopt this assessment into their hiring process. For example, United Way, a company that works for the common good of others in the area, is known for having potential candidates for job positions read the book and take the assessment.

By adapting this test into their hiring process, they create their own culture of employees. Based on the test and the interviewers results, the company hires those with specific strengths and create their own cultural dynamic of strengths within the company.

This past summer, I read the book and took the assessment because I had heard so many great things about it. For my own personal knowledge I wanted to discover my strengths. Though I believed to know what strengths I posses, but I found it difficult to sit down and give an accurate list. I began second guessing myself. My test results gave me a more accurate description of my top five. What I need to do now is build on them and learn how to successfully work with others who have the same strengths.

Here are my five:

  • Responsibility
  • Futuristic
  • Strategic
  • Achiever
  • Significance

This test was an eye opener for me and provided great information that I will be able to refer back to for years to come. What are your top five strengths?

Get the book, discover your strengths, and be prepared when you are asked about your strengths at your next interview! Check your local bookstore or Amazon for your own copy.

Gabrielle Burgess-Smith
Vice President of Public Relations

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