You have a big interview next week and you’re preparing for the big day. As part of your preparation, you’re trying to figure out how to answer the question “What are your strengths?” Of course, you feel you have many strengths, but do you know what they really are? How do you identify what your strengths are and how do you relate them to the job position in which you’re interviewing?
The first thing you should know is that strengths generally fall into three categories:
- Knowledge-based skills (computer skills, languages, technical know-how)
- Transferable skills (communication and people management skills, problem-solving)
- Personal traits (compassionate, empathetic, punctual, reliable)
Start to think about your strengths in terms of these areas and make a list of what you feel your strengths are at this moment.
In addition to making this list, there are five other things you can do right now to start identifying your strengths:
- When you are engaged in an activity that excites you, you are likely going to be using your strengths. What are you doing during this time that you are most enjoying? Are you building something? Taking care of someone? Working on the computer? What is it about that activity that you are enjoying? How does it make you feel? The activity that you identify as being most enjoyable is most likely going to be a strength.
- Notice what you do differently than everyone else. When you are truly using your strengths, you will stand out from the crowd. Your approach will be different. The way that you think about it is unique. Name what those areas are that differentiate you from everyone else.
- When you receive feedback in a current job or when you review letters of recommendation from previous employers, what are the areas in which your supervisor (s) has praised you? What feedback did they provide? Did they say that you excel in problem-solving? Do you consistently provide exceptional customer service? Identify the areas that are repeated again and again and make a list. These are likely going to be your strengths.
- Ask a close friend or mentor to provide honest feedback for you and tell you what they think your top three strengths are. When you see your reflection through the eyes of those who know you so well, you can start to identify what your strengths and value are.
- Identify ten people from all areas of your life who know you very well and ask them to write a short story about a time when you were at your best.
When you receive feedback, look for common themes that appear in each story. Make a list of these themes and the examples that support each area. These are likely going to be your strengths. Put together a plan as to how you will put your strengths into action and use them.
After you have identified all of your strengths select the top three strengths that:
- Truly excite you the most when you talk about them
- Feel the most genuine to you
- Directly relate to the job in which you are interviewing
These are the strengths you should share with your interviewer. You can also highlight these same strengths in your cover letter, resume, and in networking opportunities.
Identifying and sharing your strengths with true confidence because you’ve done your homework and are very clear on what your strengths are is when you will really start to shine during an interview!
Now I’d like to hear from you!
Can you share how you’ve been able to identify your true strengths?
Have you been able to nail an interview because you were clearly able to articulate your strengths?