How To Knock The Job Interview Question “What Are Your Strengths” Out of The Park
We’ve all had this question in an interview before, “So, what are your strengths and weaknesses?” Today we’re going to take an in depth look at not only how to analyze your strengths, but articulate them in a confident, and effective way. If you’d like to learn more about how to analyze and deliver on your weaknesses, you can check out my handy guide found here. “What are your Weaknesses.”
Today’s topic is what are your strengths job interview question.
Alright, let’s get started, shall we?
Even though we all have a diverse set of skills and experiences, there are ideas we can all benefit from. But before we go searching for the perfect thing to say, we need to first figure out how to think like a hiring manager.
If you were the hiring manager, sitting on the other side of the table, what would you want to get out of that question?
You’d ideally want to feel that this candidate has achieved this before, and that he can do it again for us.
That’s your cue.
With your answers, you need to convince the hiring manager that your strengths completely align with what is expected. For example, if you are interviewing for a management accounting role, then some of your strengths should be around IFRS, ratio analysis, acid test, etc… And, you need to give examples from your past while talking about your strengths. Example is a proof that you have done before and you can easily replicate it in future for that employer.
Alright, now let’s put this in more actionable steps. So, when you are going through your preparation, follow the below steps I outlined for you;
Step 1: Take a look at the job description first.
Always start with the job description and try to really understand what is required for this role. What kind of skills and experiences they require so you can use those to show your strengths. Once you understand it, then create that “persona” in your mind.
Who would be the ideal candidate for this role? It’s important you kind of visualize this process. Once you know the perfect candidate by making an emphathy, you’ll be able to create that “persona” from your previous experiences. The following steps will be quite easy.
Step 2: Take a look at your own CV
Once you know what skills and experiences required, then look at your own CV and try to take out those elements that you can show as a strength to the hiring manager. This is really important. Your strengths should be matching with what they are looking for. Otherwise, there would be no reason for them to ask this question in the first place.
First, you need to take a good look at yourself, and understand where your strengths come from. No one is going to have all the same strengths, so this is something that you will have to decide on for yourself. However, these are simple questions you can ask yourself to get going down the right path.
- What past job experience do I have?
- Do I have any personal hobbies that align with this company or field?
- Have I done a similar job to this before?
- Have a worked in this industry before?
- What sets me apart from the other candidates?
- What special life experiences do I have that would showcase my skills for this job?
You need to ask yourself, what experiences and skills does this company value for the position I’m applying for. Try to check out what skills and strengths people who already hold that position possess. A good place to start for both of these are the company website, and LinkedIn. By doing some research ahead of time, you’ll have a clearer idea of what attributes to highlight, and which ones you shouldn’t mention at all.
Are you with me so far?
Step 3: How about the unwritten requirements?
Do you remember that we have previously discussed the unwritten requirements in previous posts? They apply here as well. Speak with experts or make a proper internet research and come up with a few items that you think highly relevant to the job. Hiring managers are very busy individuals, they don’t always have time to go through the job description development very seriously. So, they throw in a couple of bullet points and then they are done. But this doesn’t mean there are no more requirements than what is written in that small piece of paper. So, do you research and come up with other requirements that are not written in the JD.
Step 4: Practice in front of mirror
Now, you know what skills from your past apply to this role properly. The remaining task is the easy one. You need to put in a few hours of practice to perfect your speech. This is the easiest and fun bit. Just go to a mirror and start delivering your speech. My strengths are… Once you are confident of your delivery, then find a friend or family and pitch it to them. Make sure they take this as seriously as possible though. You want them to really be strict with you.
The final thing you can do is to work on your presentation skills. It will help you deliver that speech significantly better. There are a few things you can consider;
- You’re not a scarecrow, don’t act like one!
The amount of times I’ve seen presenters stand in same exact stop, never lifting their feet, has to be too many to count. Do not let this be you! Although you probably won’t have much room, this doesn’t mean you should sit still. (If you’re using the gold approach, then this tip will be that much easier to implement!
- Make sure you’re standing up straight with good posture.
If you remain seated, then make sure you are sitting up straight with good posture. Having good posture is a key element to any successful presentation. It shows strength, and attentiveness. It shows that you are interested in the job, and care about the position. If you are sitting down, it is a good idea to lean slightly forward as well. This will continue to highlight your interest in the job.
- Verbalize and annunciate all your words.
Yes, that means trying to avoid stuttering and mumbling at all costs. This presentation is when you’re delivering on your strengths, and by being clean and straightforward, you’re sure to convey the right message. Make sure you avoid these in you presentation.
- Try to have a single central or key idea.
This is a good tip for any presentation. Whether you’re giving an oral presentation, or going with the tried and true gold method, you want to decide on the key or central idea you want to convey to your hiring manager. You should support this idea at least three times throughout your presentation. By doing this, you’re leaving a clear and direct message to your hiring manager.
- Try to include very light humor.
This is a tricky one, and something that should be done with care. Some very light humor in the beginning or opening of your presentation is encouraged, although you want to avoid relying on this too heavily. If in doubt, go more conservative. Remember, you’re likely in a corporate setting.
- Avoid fillers.
Fillers can be pretty hard to phase out of your vocabulary. When you’re presenting, you want to avoid them at all costs. Although they may seem unnoticeable, they can be painfully obvious to the audience. The best way to help reduce and eliminate them is with the next helpful tip.
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