How to Answer: “What are your strengths?”
“What are your strengths?” is a one of the most common interview questions. The secret to answering this question is about understanding why companies employ you.
Often people misunderstand the purpose of this question and don’t know the secret to answering.
Your Strengths create value
A company employees you for what you do well – your strengths. Lots of people share common strengths. The purpose and key to answer this question is to show you have a USP – unique selling point.
A USP demonstrates your value which is desirable to employers. This value makes you stand out from the crowd giving you an edge.
Creating a Unique Selling point
To create a your unique selling point structure your answer like this:
- List your best 3 strengths – this shows your awareness. Most people stop at this point.
- Explain why your strengths are important.
- Explain how you utilise them to create results and provide benefit (Benefit = value)
- Combine your 3 strengths to create a USP
People share common strengths, for example lots of people are good at stakeholder management. So, create a USP of a rare and desirable combination as like a diamond – if its rare its more valuable!
Strengths USP example:
Two common strengths people have are project management experience and speaking multiple languages. Imagine the people with these skills in Venn diagram. The former in red and the latter in blue. Where this overlaps, those with both skills – there are significantly fewer people.
If you are in the overlap, you are rarer and have more valuable.
Adding a third strength makes you even more unique. For example you could have experience in the nuclear industry. Now only you have the USP of the combination of these three strengths.
A rare combination of skills makes your unique and valuable, like a diamond. It’s important to note as your as your combination becomes rarer so does the number of companies that the combination is very desirable for. That’s why you need to match your three strengths to the job you are applying for.
- The key Do is to ensure the combination matches and is relevant the role you’ve applied for.
- Make them genuine
- Ensure you are passion and enjoy using them– this comes across if you don’t.
- Don’t give more than three
- Do not boost or come across as arrogant
- Don’t make the combination too niche
And that’s how to answer “What are your strengths?”.
The “How to Answer” series
The “How To Answer” series explains the purpose and the best way to structure answers for the most common interview questions. Learn about the key Dos and Don’ts and see an example on how to apply them. Check out other questions in the series here:
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