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One of the most dreaded questions a manager will spring, during an interview, “What are your greatest strengths?” seems pretty daunting. But, that doesn’t mean you have to arrive at the interview unprepared to answer well. With the right preparation, it becomes one of the best ways you can showcase your skills and stand out among other candidates.
Here are a few Dos and Don’ts for answering this question.
Don’t: List a string of positive traits, with no means to back up what you’re saying. The worst response you can give includes a string of positive attributes that are superficial and unrelated to the job. If your first thought when asked this questions is “friendly,” “easy to get along with,” or “laid back,” think harder. If others can’t tell you are personable after a conversation, you may not be as friendly and laid back as you thought. Give the interviewer something with depth and purpose.
Do: Think quality, not quantity. A quality answer to this notorious interview question must stand on the line between confidence and arrogance. Instead of giving a long list of generic traits, keep the list to three, and be able to expand upon them. Choosing which three will take some critical thinking. Plan ahead, and consider the organization and the available position. Will you be managing others? Talk about your leadership skills and experience. Will you be on the road often? Discuss your independence and reliability. A genuine discussion about your strengths will take you much farther than a long list of keywords and clichés.
Do: Back up your strengths with stories and examples. Telling the interviewer how you have applied these strengths will give your claims validity and will show that you can think under pressure (another strength)!
Do: Use the versatility of the question to your advantage. The open-ended nature of the question allows you to lead the conversation in a direction that will be most beneficial for you. Discuss the skills you want to emphasize and lead the conversation in a direction that will flatter you and highlight your three most relevant strengths.
Don’t: Try an ill-conceived “one-size-fits-all” approach. Come to the interview prepared with answers, and a wealth of stories to use. Strategically use open ended questions to make sure you are memorable.
With these strategies in your pocket, you’re sure to ace that dreaded interview question!