Many people feel anxious and nervous when they are faced with certain interview questions. “What is your greatest strength?” is one of those questions. It may seem daunting, but it’s an opportunity to highlight your skills and accomplishments in a positive light.
If you have an interview coming up and you are worried about this dreaded question, we have some suggestions on how to respond in a way that will impress the interviewer!
Why do people worry about discussing their greatest strength?
Interviewing is stressful, regardless of the questions you face. However, discussing your greatest strength—and alternatively, your greatest weakness—feels disconcerting to many job seekers.
Let’s explore some reasons why talented candidates struggle with this common interview question.
Fear of coming across as boastful
Candidates often worry about coming across as boastful or arrogant if they speak too confidently about their strengths. They don’t want to seem conceited, so they may downplay their strengths.
Fortunately, you can express your strengths in objective ways, discussing the result as well as the strength. Mention how your greatest strength empowers your fellow team members and customers.
Concern about the perfection of downplaying weaknesses
Everyone has weaknesses as well as strengths. Many job candidates worry that discussing strengths will naturally trigger questions about their weaknesses or that, by discussing their strengths, they might seem like they’re not aware of their weaknesses or areas that need improvement.
Prepare for a follow-up question about your greatest weakness, offering insights about how you have overcome it or continue to work on overcoming it.
Worry over poor alignment with the job description
Candidates may worry that their strengths are not perfect matches for what is required in the job description. They worry that a mismatch could create doubt in the interviewer’s mind about their suitability for the job.
Ensure that you find ways to tie your greatest strength to key responsibilities and required qualifications in the job description, like your ability to grasp new technology quickly. Therefore, you can pick up the tools you need along the way.
Apprehension about a perceived lack of originality
Most candidates worry about providing a clichéd or canned response to this question, such as “I’m a people person” or “I’m a team player.” While both responses are valid, it’s easy to understand why a job candidate might feel hesitant to mention it.
Ponder some creative ways to express these strengths by providing more elaborate responses, such as “I believe in the value of teamwork, listening to everyone’s ideas, and working together to find common ground and a solution.” Offer alternative approaches to make responses more unique and memorable.
Anxiousness about seeming too prepared
Since this question is so common, most candidates anticipate it and prepare for it. Hence, it’s easy to understand why candidates worry that their answers seem too practiced.
Once you read the job description before your interview, come up with the most organic responses possible. Do a practice interview with a friend or a staffing professional.
Why do employers want to know your greatest strength?
You might wonder why this question has stood the test of time and is asked as much today as it was asked decades ago.
It’s not a trick question. The fact is that the primary goal of the hiring manager for your prospective employer is getting to know you. While your goal is to learn about the job, their job is to learn about you. Interviewers are testing your self-awareness to gain insights into how well you can answer this simple question in a confident and professional manner.
5 ways to answer “what is your greatest strength?” interview question
It’s time to sit down to prepare for this important interview question by doing the following.
1. Understand why the interviewer asks the question
We went over the reasons why hiring managers ask this question. Ensure that you truly understand so you can provide a candid answer that will satisfy them. Work on answering the question honestly and confidently while maintaining professionalism and modesty.
2. List your top greatest strengths
It’s important to list everything you believe is your greatest strength to find the one that outshines all the rest. Once you have created your list, review it to determine which strengths align with the job position and job description to ensure that your answer is relevant and organic while driving home the fact that you are the best candidate for the job.
Reflect on your professional experiences, skills, accomplishments, and awards to help determine what sets you apart. Consider things you have truly excelled at, such as bringing team members together and serving as a voice of calm during heated debates.
Most importantly, keep in mind that self-awareness provides a compass that guides you toward your true authentic strength you want to share with an interviewer.
3. Relate your greatest strength using the STAR method
Create an impactful response using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) Method. Begin by relating a specific situation where you used your greatest strength. Describe the task you tackled, the actions you took, and the ultimate results.
This method is a great way to discuss your greatest strength in an objective way that helps retain a certain distance and humility while also providing structure, depth, and context to your answer.
4. Tell an authentic story
Become a storyteller, creating a memorable, authentic narrative for your use of your greatest strength. Emphasize your contribution and impact with a compelling story that lays out why your greatest strength was needed and how you applied it.
5. Practice and rehearse your answer
Conducting mock interviews where you practice and rehearse your answers is a vital tool you should use. Work with a family member, friend, or a recruiting partner to prepare for a big interview to become increasingly familiar with your response to ensure smooth delivery during the actual interview.
“What is your greatest strength?” example answers
Regardless of where your job search takes you, it might help to see some examples of how professionals in different industries answer this key question.
IT workers often experience high-pressure situations when the internet is down, a program isn’t downloading properly, or there has been a data breach. IT job candidates might share how well they work under the pressure of meeting demands at multiple levels, from executives and managers to daily workers.
The strengths you might provide as a finance professional include those involving your education in accounting, economics, statistics, problem-solving, communication, and management. A finance leader might discuss how they can help a company course-correct its finances by creating a budget that is effective but not painful.
Nurses might answer this question by discussing their compassion, integrity, perseverance, kindness, optimism, purpose, teamwork, and ability to manage their fellow nursing staff as their greatest strengths. A nursing professional might share how they managed shifts, providing talented nurses with the best shifts for their schedule and the most suitable patients for their personality.
Do you need help answering this crucial question for your job interview?
Are you ready for your upcoming job interview, but you need some extra help answering questions regarding your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Insight Global is here to help coach you through the hiring process, including answering these interview questions and any others that concern you. Let us know how we can help you find and land your dream job.
If you’re looking to further enhance your interview readiness, check out our posts covering strategies to effectively respond to other common interview questions:
- Why Do You Want to Work Here? (How to Answer)
- How To Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in Your Next Interview (With Examples)
- How to Answer “What are your weaknesses?” Job Interview Question
- How to Answer, “Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?”
- How to Answer, “What Other Companies Are You Interviewing With?”