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The Job Interview: How to Answer the Strengths Question

You’re at a job interview, and you know the question will come up in some form or other: What are your top three strengths? How do your strengths align with our company? What skills set you apart from the competition?

How do you respond?

To prepare for these questions, identify your strengths before going into an interview. Strengths may include your education, hands-on experience and soft skills. It's very helpful to write them out. Make a list of everything you can think of. Again, include strengths from your education, experience and soft skills.

Job interview strengths

Education is an easy one, especially since this section should be on your resume: degrees, certifications, trainings, seminars. While easy to list out, you need to make sure you are able to speak to them during an interview. Be prepared to respond to such questions as: Why did you obtain a certain degree? Why did you want a certification?

Address each one of these questions by relating it to the job you are interviewing for. For example, I personally could say “I obtained my bachelor’s degree in business marketing with a leadership minor from Bethel University. I wanted to focus on business due to my strong interest in problem-solving, relationship-building and leadership. By choosing this major, I was able to land an internship focusing on recruitment for junior level talent which is when I realized that recruiting is my passion.” Practice your answers verbally! Remember to tie or relate your answers to the position you are interviewing for.

Hands-on experience may include jobs, internships, volunteering or even personal projects. These should also be listed on your resume if they are relevant to the postition you are interviewing for and would be identified as a strength. During an interview, you’ll want to answer questions by highlighting your relevant expertise, responsibilities or knowledge of working with similar software or technologies. Make sure you are discussing relevant topics to help bridge the gap between your hands-on experience and the job you are interviewing for.

Last is soft skills and personal values that you will want to showcase during an interview. These strengths, unlike education and experience, may not be on your resume. In fact, I would encourage you to not list soft skills on your resume, but rather display them during an interview. These may include communication skills, problem-solving, ambition, relationship-building or personal values. You’ll want to come up with answers for all of them. Also, practice talking about those examples!

A great way to practice these would be to look up behavioral style interview questions. Many employers use these types of questions to identify candidate strengths or to make sure they have that specific quality. Questions you can practice: “Tell me about a time you had to create a unique or different problem-solving approach.” “Tell me about a time where you exceeded expectations.” Even if you don’t know exactly what is going to be asked during an interview, these are great questions to practice speaking to. Every job has an aspect of soft skills needed and it is your job to highlight yours!

You now have your written list of educational, hands-on experience and soft skilled strengths that you are prepared to speak to during a job interview. Be confident about your strengths and don’t be shy when talking about them. Everyone is going to bring different strengths to a team. The best thing for you is to know yours and emphasize them.

Also read these Genesis10 blogs: Tips for Demonstrating Communication Skills at Every Step of the Interview Process and What You Need to Know to Succeed at Your First Job.

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