How to Answer: “What are Your Strengths?”

Anonymous asked this: “How do I answer the question: what are your strengths in a job interview?”

Here’s my answer:

Hi Anon. It’s just a question, answer it, don’t be scared of it. The employer is just trying to figure out why you would be a valuable person to have on the team, they want to know what benefit you’ll bring to his/her business.

“What are your strengths?” Or in other words, what are you really good at – or what could you be really good at? What in your past work or student experience did you do well?

* So, can you type at 60wpm? That’s a strength.
* Can you speak clearly, politely and diplomatically with clients? That’s a strength.
* Are you good with figures – making calculations, adding things up? Strength.
* Are you an organized person? Always keeping your desk, bag, shelves neat and tidy? Strength.
* Can you lead a team (you can tell from your school years)? Strength.

And you’ll want to remember that your strengths should translate into benefits for the business … your client skills result in happy clients who return and buy more … your being organized means the business will finish projects on time and within budget (money will be saved) … etc.

So here’s a good answer:

“I have 3 strengths, I feel. 1) I can type at 60 wpm – so I get admin work and correspondence done really fast and accurately, sometimes I get up at 5am just to practice my skills, to stay sharp. 2) I speak English clearly and well. So on the phone and when interacting with clients, I give a good first impression. They enjoy speaking to me. And 3) I’m very organized – so my desk it always neat, I’m up-to-date with work and I get things done when they should be done.”

Hope this helps!

Gerard le Roux | Guerrilla Job Search Coach | |

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Do You Threaten the Interviewer/Future Manager?

Got this question from “L” about interviews …

Hi Gerald

Would you agree that one must never oversell himself at an interview, as
that might be a threat to an interviewer and lower your chances of
getting the job.


Here’s my reply … read carefully. There’s important stuff in the few lines ahead – for application in every job hunting situation.

Hi “L” – Thanks for your mail. I have some comments on “overselling”:

Dealing with people who may feel threatened by you is difficult. We’re all driven a little by fear that someone else will come in and steel our ‘thunder’. It’s natural to some degree.

So what’s the solution? It’s multifaceted. On the one hand it’s about dealing with people. And on the other it’s about how we go about looking for a job.

  1. When dealing with people it’s critical to respect them, show personal interest in them, make them feel validated, show deference, be humble, etc.

    An “I’m so great, in 2 years I want YOUR job” approach won’t go down well with a fragile interviewer/potential future Line Manager/employer. Some of the greatest people I know are humble and they’re great because they make people feel important and valued.

    It’s a rare character/skill to be like that, to have that mindset. No matter how fragile, abrupt, impolite and aggressive (all signs of fear) an interviewer is – they’re still valuable people, with something to offer. Ask them how long they’ve been in the business. Ask them where they started.

    Try to shine the light on them in whatever way you can. Ask their opinion: “what do you really want from ther person in this position?” “what’s important to you?” “how have people failed in this position before – what can you not live with?” “what advice would you give the person on day 1 in this job?” Then listen.

    It’s not a question of “overselling” yourself or “underselling” yourself to avoid this problem. It’s a question of reassuring the interviewer that they can work with you, you’re going to make their job easier, they’re going get the credit for hiring you. And you need to feel sincere about it.

    Obviously you’re there to get ahead yourself. But there are ways to do that without throwing people under the bus. Being nice doesn’t mean being stupid.

  2. The fact is that not every job/company culture/interviewer/potential Manager will be a good match. Simple. So it’s best not to get too ‘invested’ in any one interview.

    Take them all seriously, sure. Follow up, sure. But one of the biggest keys to job search success is having a long list of interviews lined up (how to do that is a big topic covered in my new book – will let you know about is soon).

    The worst interview strategy is to have just one interview. It’s a recipe for high stress, high tension, bad interviewing and just plain failure. More interviews gives more options.

Hope this helps! All the best, stay in touch.