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How to Answer “What Is Your Greatest Strength”?

When we’re getting ourselves ready for a job interview, we know that certain questions are more likely to come up. Nevertheless, quite often, that moment comes without the necessary preparation.

But how is that possible? It is like knowing in advance the questions of an exam and not making an effort to study the answers.

Don’t let that be you…

how to answer what is your greatest strength

It’s incredible how many people still show up to an interview without knowing How to Answer “What Is Your Greatest Strength.”

So, I’ve decided to solve this problem for everyone by looking at what the recruiters want you to say and the most common mistakes to avoid.

What Do They Want To Know?

Once you understand why this is one of the most common questions in a job interview, the answer will be a lot easier.

So, what do the recruiters really mean when they ask you what is your greatest strength?

Top tip…

The most important thing to focus on in an interview is that everything you say has to be relevant to the job you’re applying for, and when you talk about your strengths, it’s no exception.

You have to be able to show how your strengths can be useful in what you’ll be required to do.

How can you do that?

The interviewers want to hear about when your biggest strength has helped you solve a tricky situation or has benefited you in your past work experience. They ultimately want to know if you have the qualities to meet all the requirements that they listed in the job posting.

Beware…

It’s worth knowing that this is not the only way to formulate that question. They could ask you what your best qualities are or how your abilities could relate to the job. Even the most dreaded question, “Why should we hire you?” can be addressed in the same way.

My recommendation is to prepare at least three different answers and tailor them to the situation.

What You Should Not Tell Them?

Now that it’s clear what the recruiters want to know, let’s look at what they are not interested in.

They certainly don’t want to hear you talking about how good of an athlete you are or how much better you are than anybody else in picking up a sport-related skill. That is, unless you’re applying for a job in the fitness industry and you can prove that this ability will come in handy in the position they’re offering.

Stay away from personal information…

They don’t want to hear how good of a listener you are and how all your friends come and talk to you when they’re in trouble. That makes you an excellent friend, but how does that relate to the job?

how to answer what is a greatest strength

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t talk about your personal life unless you can give examples of how it makes you a better employee.

The worst mistake people make…

Another common mistake is to answer with just a few words without giving any explanation.

If you’re applying for a client service manager position, you can’t just reply that you provide excellent customer service. Firstly, this is the bare minimum for a job like that. Secondly, if you’re not able to expand on your answer, it will sound like something you said just to please them.

You could be the best customer service rep, but they will politely smile at you and tell you that they’ll let you know.

How To Use This Particular Question To Your Advantage?

Anytime I have a job interview, I always hope they ask me this question or anything similar.

Why is that?

Because it is a great question that we can use to our advantage to show that we are a perfect fit for the role!

The truth is that you have the freedom to speak about almost everything you want as long as you prove to the recruiter that what you’re saying is strongly related to the job. Therefore, there’s no limit to what you decide to highlight.

Whatever you believe your greater strength is, it will be perfect, even if at first sight it doesn’t look relevant. As long as you frame it correctly.

How to do that?

Read the job requirements carefully and find a connection with your best quality. Then think of a time when that quality was instrumental in your past jobs and build your story on that.

If you’re really struggling to find anything meaningful, ask your friends and your family what they think your most significant strength is. You’ll be surprised at how many suggestions they will come up with.

Prepare Your Answer

As already mentioned, a big mistake is to arrive at the job interview without being ready to explain what your greatest strength is.

You know that there is a good chance that you’ll be asked that. Therefore, if you invest a bit of time in preparing your answer in advance, you will immediately set yourself apart from many other job candidates that will freeze in front of the interviewers.

However, make sure you don’t sound like a robot when you address the question. Indeed you want to practice your answer a few times, but not to the extent that you repeat it mechanically.

how to answer what is greatest strength

The more natural you sound, the more credible you are. When people repeat an answer that they’ve learned by heart, they usually look like they’re lying or as if they don’t really believe what they’re saying.

The best strategy…

The chances are that you’re going to be asked the same question more than once, with just some minor differences in the way they formulate it. As we’ve already seen, they all mean the same thing.

Therefore, be ready with at least two or three different replies, so you’re not going to end up repeating yourself.

Let’s now look at how you can structure your answer…

The Perfect Answer

Generally speaking, your answer should be fairly short and go straight to the point but still have substance. You don’t want to go through a full rendition of how great you are with too many details that the recruiters are not interested in.

Keep the focus on what you want them to remember.

The Main Statement

Your first sentence will state what your greatest strength is. Be direct, and don’t mince your words. Here are some excellent examples:

“I believe my greatest strength is attention to detail.”

“Thanks to my past experiences, I developed a strong ability to remain calm in stressful situations.”

“I pride myself on always exceeding my customer’s expectations.”

A lot of people recommend using this formula, “All my friends always tell me that….”

So should you use that?

While it might work on certain occasions because it shows that you don’t want to brag about yourself, it might also display a lack of confidence. Therefore, I wouldn’t use it unless what you’re adding next is extraordinary.

Articulate Your Answer

At this point, the interviewer is waiting for you to explain more about what you just said. Therefore, give an example of when you put it into practice in a real working experience. Such as…

“This has helped me immensely during my years as a restaurant manager at (name of the restaurant). I remember one time when I realized that one customer looked unhappy with his situation. When the waiter asked him if everything was fine, he confirmed that the food was excellent.

However, I’ve learned that many customers are just too shy to complain, and being able to interpret their body language is crucial. I went to check his order, and I realized that there had been a mistake with his drink.

We immediately took him the drink of his choice. I went to apologize, and I informed him that all his drinks would be free of charge.”

See how that paints you in a really positive light?

But don’t forget…

What Was The Outcome?

This is the last part of your answer, and you have to explain what happened after you took action. For example:

“The customer was so surprised that I had been able to recognize the problem without him telling me anything that he has become a regular customer since then.”

Aced it!

Now you know How to Answer “What Is Your Greatest Strength”…

Want More Support for Your Interview?

I recommend familiarizing yourself with all common interview questions, not just this one.

Consider the specific type of position you’re applying for and find out exactly what to expect based on that. Trying to get a hostess position? Check out these most common Hostess Interview Questions! Want the Head Cook position? Read about these common Cook Interview Questions.

Interviewing with top US company chains…

We’ve also got all the standard interview questions the top US chains tend to ask when interviewing. You can access Dollar General Interview Questions, Walgreens Customer Service Associate Interview Questions, Wendys Interview Questions, Aflac Interview Questions, Hollister Interview Questions, Parks and Recreation Interview Questions, and so much more! Or type your potential employer into our search box to see if we’ve got them!

More rich resources to use for interviewing like a pro…

If you’re interviewing for the first time or you’ve been out of the game for a very long time, I’d recommend investing in one of these great resources: Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies, How to Create Positive Impressions, and Interview Like A Pro.

Back to how to talk about your strengths in an interview...

Final Thoughts

Every question is important during a job interview, but some of them are so essential that just a tiny detail can make the difference between getting hired or not. Therefore, it’s essential to be prepared to address those questions that you can be reasonably sure you will be asked.

Knowing how to respond to questions about your greatest strengths is not a matter of improvising. When you apply for a job, you should already be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses.

If you prepare your answer in advance and cover all the focal points discussed today, your job interview will be a much more relaxed experience. Moreover, your chances to finally get the job you’re dreaming of will be much higher.

Good luck with your interview!

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About Eugene Casey

Eugene works in a busy employment agency in Chicago and has nearly 20 years of experience in finding clients the perfect job. His philosophy is simple, the right match for the right position is nearly always a win-win for both the employee and the company.

When he isn't working or writing for us, he enjoys cooking and exploring the United States, one state at a time.

He lives with his wife Lisa and their two German Shepherds, Wilber and Gus.

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