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If you're looking for a new job, there's a pretty good chance you'll be asked to define your greatest strength. This common interview question can be pretty introspective and personal, but it's a great way for interviewers better understand your skill set and how you can contribute to the company.
When answering the interview question "What is your greatest strength?", don't fall into the trap with a cliche response like "I'm a hard worker" or "I have great initiative" I— these can come across as lazy and insincere answers. The interviewer is looking for you to explain why your soft skills, hard skills, and experience, as well as your personality, make you a good fit for the role. So of course, your response should reflect this!
This interview question can come in other forms, including "What can you contribute to this company?", "Tell me about yourself," "What is your work style?", "What makes you unique?" and "Describe your work ethic." It's also very common for interviewers to pair this question with the follow-up question, "What is your greatest weakness?".
An excellent answer to this common interview question isn't as easy as it seems. To prepare the best answer, you'll need to read the job description carefully, research the company, and match your answer to the role. A well-crafted answer doesn't just show off your strengths but makes it clear that they're a good fit for this particular role in this particular company.
In this article, we've prepared some of the best example answers to "What is your greatest strength?" along with some tips and mistakes you'll want to avoid.
Why interviewers ask "What is your greatest strength?"
Interviewers ask "What is your greatest strength?" to discover whether you have the right skills and related ability, and career experience necessary to do this exact job. A "strength" doesn't necessarily have to be a specific soft skill or hard skill, but can be a combination of many skills.
Interviewees are not simply interested in hearing what you perceive to be your single greatest strength, but an answer that highlights a number of both soft skills and hard skills that are applicable to this specific role.
Ideally, your answer will highlight quantifiable results from a previous job to support your answer. This not only brings your answer into context for the interviewer, but it helps show confidence, capability, and experience, providing the interviewer with an insight into how you perceive yourself and your abilities. These are qualities that will show off how you can contribute to this new role.
At the end of the day, what matters the most is that you prepare an answer that shows the interviewer that you have the right skills for this specific job. Preparation is key to delivering this perfectly.
How to answer "What are your greatest strengths?"
As we've touched on, the best answers to "What are your greatest strengths?" use real-life examples to show interviewers why you're a good fit for this specific job and company.
Simply answering this common interview question with "my greatest strength is my ability to set goals and achieve them" doesn't explain how you set goals and achieve them. Anyone can answer with this response. To stand out in a job interview, you need to show the interviewer how you've leveraged this strength in previous roles with real examples. Providing examples will also show off a myriad of secondary soft and hard skills.
An insincere or incomplete answer to this question can show a lack of preparation and even cause hiring managers to screen you out. Employers always prefer candidates that come prepared and there are likely going to be other strong applicants with similar skills and abilities interviewing for the job. All it takes is for one of them to craft their response more carefully and they'll be able to edge ahead.
Follow the steps below to pinpoint your greatest strength and prepare a solid answer to "What is your greatest strength?".
1. List your skills, strengths, and experiences
Create a list of positive skills, strengths, and experiences that you have backing you. These can be soft skills or hard skills, characteristics, life experiences, or personality traits that differentiate you from other people who have held similar positions.
As a quick example, if you're good with managing people, list that down. "Managing people" is a great answer to expand upon because it encompasses a myriad of other skills such as time management, delegation, interpersonal, social EQ, leadership, and communication skills.
Tip: Looking back at your career retrospectively can be a difficult task. It might help to ask friends or a former colleague or supervisor to offer some suggestions. This can be an excellent way to get a new perspective and list what your greatest strengths (and greatest weaknesses) are.
2. Thoroughly research the job and company
Once you've listed potential skills, strengths, and experiences, the next step is to carefully read the job description and research the company. What you're looking for is what the company is looking for with this role.
While it can take some time to research the role and company, it's a worthwhile investment. Good job listings make this as clear as possible for you but you'd be surprised how many applicants skip this step!
With a deeper understanding of the company culture and what the role requirements are, you can make sure you highlight relevant strengths and skills in your answer to
If you understand the company culture and role expectations, you can make sure you highlight relevant strengths in your answer to "What is your greatest strength?". This knowledge will also be invaluable when answering other common interview questions.
3. Match your skills, strengths, and experiences to the job and company needs
Bring the first two steps together by matching your skills, strengths, and experiences with what the company is looking for in the role.
This is important! As we've emphasized, this increases your chance of landing a job offer by positioning you as the best candidate for this specific job. In a competitive job landscape, it's not enough to talk about an impressive greatest strength you have if it's not applicable to the role — don't make the same mistake as other candidates that didn't do their research.
As an example, say you're for a job as a remote customer service supervisor and the job description mentions the company needs someone experienced to manage a team spread across multiple time zones. Many candidates will focus on their customer service skills as their greatest strength. While this is helpful in this role, the company is looking for a supervisor who has customer service skills but can also manage a team remotely.
What will make you stand out is an answer to "What is your greatest strength?" that emphasizes valuable remote work skills acutely applicable to the role: your strengths working across time zones and collaborating via asynchronous communication.
By focusing on these strengths in your answer, you're highlighting specific skills that are highly applicable to this specific job: you make it easy for the interviewer to see why you're the best fit for the role amongst other applicants with customer service supervisor experience.
4. Include examples in your answer with the STAR interview technique
When preparing your answer to "What is your greatest strength?", it's a great idea to include one or more specific examples. Recalling a situation when you've demonstrated this your strengths is far more compelling than simply saying you have it and also shows you have relevant experience.
For example, if you describe your greatest strength as your ability to attract, onboard, and retain the best talent in the industry, include an example of where you've started in a new role and done just that. You'll really stand out if you can provide quantifiable results (e.g. you hired 5 senior customer service representatives in the first quarter).
Using a condensed version of the The STAR interview method is an easy and effective way to structure your answer with an example. It provides a framework for job candidates to answer behavioral-based interview questions. The STAR acronym stands for situation, task, action, and result:
- Situation: Describe the situation as it forms the basis for the rest of your answer.
- Task: Outline your goals or problems.
- Action: Describe the steps you took to solve the problems or achieve your goals.
- Result: Explain how solving the problems or meeting your goals contributed to the company, then emphasize how you could contribute if hired.
Using the STAR method to structure your research into a compelling answer is one of the best ways to provide a complete description of what you can contribute to the company that shows your value to prospective employers.
Example answers to "What is your greatest strength?"
Here are four great example answers to the question "What is your greatest strength?" that will stand out amongst a sea of applicants.
Example answer #1: Ability to attract and retain talent
"My greatest strength, and something I pride myself on, is my ability to track down, hire, and retain the best talent. When I was an engineering manager at Opendoor we had an in-house recruiting team and worked with external recruiters, but they didn't know how to find or talk to the best engineers.
This was a bottleneck for the company when I started, so I took it upon myself to help out. In less than 2 years, I'd personally reached out to and hired 60+ software engineers, 90% of these hires are still working at Opendoor.
Not only did this allow my engineering teams to move faster, but it saved the company hundreds of thousands in recruiting costs."
Why it works: This is an excellent answer. Most employers struggle to hire and retain the best talent, especially software engineers. If the company is hiring for multiple roles and growing quickly, they're almost certainly facing the same issues that Opendoor did. This example answer demonstrates incredible initiative, people skills, and a myriad of other leadership and soft skills that make this candidate stand out. Providing quantifiable numbers helps demonstrate how much money this candidate could save the company if hired because they went above and beyond their role requirements and are clearly an inspiring leader to attract those numbers.
Example answer #2: Great at SEO when writing content
"My greatest strength is technical SEO: writing and optimizing content to rank better than competitors in Google.
I've been working as a senior content writer for over 4 years now at big companies such as Wealthsimple and Upwork, and I've realized how rare this skill is amongst my peers — it's something that most companies are still sleeping on. There's no point spending all day writing content — even if it's great writing — if your customers don't find it via Google.
During my time at Descript, I took it upon myself to completely overhaul their content strategy. For every blog post I wrote, I went back and optimized another of their posts to rank better in Google. In the first 6 months, I'd grown their stagnant organic traffic by 130%, and many of the posts that I wrote in my time there are still ranking on the first page of Google — bringing in new customers for years.
I believe the same best practices could do wonders for your organic traffic at Productboard."
Why it works: This answer uncovers a valuable insight for the hiring manager: There's no point in writing content if your customers don't find it. This is a great answer because it highlights something the company needs that they might have not even thought of! If SEO skills are already mentioned in the job description, it provides a clear example with numbers to back it up that you're the right person for the role. Even better, the fact that the candidate took to the time go back and optimize existing content as they went demonstrates discipline, initiative, and a deep understanding of their craft. When employers hire an ambitious candidate with a proven track record, they can rest easy knowing the new hire will do their best to replicate their past success at their company.
Example answer #3: You're personable
"I'd say my greatest strength is that I'm extremely personable. Part of this is because I genuinely enjoy interacting with people and helping them solve problems. I love the process — hearing about their backgrounds, finding commonalities, hearing about problems they're having with their existing stack. Discussing how we could potentially help comes later.
Naturally, this builds trust and I believe sustainable sales is all about building trust with companies over time. Too many salespeople in this industry move too fast, which comes across as disingenuous and "pushy".
When I worked at Conjura, my first 4 quarters in the roles I was in the top 5 in a team of 20, and the following 4 quarters I was the #1 salesperson for the company by revenue. I was promoted to Sales Manager and was asked to teach my approach to the rest of the team. I believe this was a testament to my strength for being personable and genuine. Over time, you build relationships with leaders at companies — they trust me — and the sales revenue reflected that."
Why it works: This example answer demonstrates how the candidate's soft skills — being personable and likable — allow them to sustainably and consistently increase sales revenue over time. Companies hiring for sales development roles are always looking for salespeople who can close deals, but this example answer goes above and beyond and shows how their approach to sales is superior to other candidates.
Example answer #4: Excellent communicator
"My greatest strength is I'm an excellent communicator. I pride myself on making sure my written and verbal communication is succinct and that I take world-class notes and documentation and make sure the entire team is across everything.
For example, when I was a product manager at Divvy, I took it upon myself to start properly documenting processes and engineering decisions, bringing everything together into Notion and keeping the broader team and management in the loop. I also began updating and improving our Intercom database, communicating clearly to customers to answer common questions. There wasn't much in place prior.
This ultimately led to a 30% increase in engineering output, a 25% decrease in customer support requests, and an estimated 30% revenue increase. Succinct communication drives results.
Why it works: This example answer demonstrates how effective great communication skills can be, regardless of what role or industry you're in. This answer provides a great example of how their strength at communicating helped not only her own team, but other teams as well — ultimately leading to increased revenue and reduced costs for the entire company.
It's also something that doesn't come easy to most people. Most product managers applying for this role would not even think to focus on this as their greatest strength, however, it clearly ticks all the right boxes that are required for this specific job. It shows you're organized, have great initiative, are process-orientated, and work well with others. When candidates can communicate well, they're much more likely to get the job.
Tips for answering "What is your greatest strength?"
- Prepare a response: Actually go through the steps above and write down a prepared response. Practicing this response out loud will help you internalize it so you can deliver it confidently and without missing important details.
- Focus on the skills and strengths the interviewer is looking for: Once you make your list of your skills, strengths, and experiences, make sure you read the job description and highlight attributes that are called out in it. While the interviewer may be looking for one strength, it's easy to weave in multiple skills and qualities into the strength as demonstrated in the examples above.
- Provide an example and tell a story: Providing an example where you've demonstrated your strength is far more compelling than simply saying you have it. It also gives the interviewer more context and shows how it will be useful to the company. It may be helpful to use the STAR interview technique.
- Be succinct: Give the shortest answer you can while still answering the question. Aim for between 60 and 90 seconds.
- Be confident: Employers want people with soft skills and confidence. Sit up straight, make eye contact, and smile.
Mistakes to avoid when answering "What is your greatest strength?"
- Being too humble: "What is your greatest strength?" is a pretty direct question. It might be uncomfortable to boast about yourself, but this isn't the time to be humble. The interviewer wants to hear about what makes you a great candidate. Don't exaggerate your strengths or come across as arrogant, but be confident in your answer.
- Rambling: Keep your answer concise to make it easy to follow. Following the STAR interview technique is a great way to keep things on track and easy to follow.
- Lying: It's easy to be caught out in a lie in a job interview and will instantly disqualify you as a trustworthy candidate. While you should personalize your answer to the job and company, authenticity is still important. Your answer must be genuine and be prepared to expand on it if the interviewer asks follow-up questions.
- Being too vague: The interviewer doesn't want to hear that your greatest strength is that you're "good with numbers". They want to hear how you're good with numbers and how it can help them. Back up your answer with specific examples that demonstrate why you're the best candidate for this specific job.
Possible follow-up questions
- What is your greatest weakness?
- Describe your work ethic
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why are you the best person for this job?
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake
- Do you have any questions for me? Read our guide on the best questions to ask in an interview.
- What can you contribute to this company? This question is like "Why do you want to work here?" and will only be asked as a follow-up if you weren't able to clearly articulate your value in your answer.
- Any number of behavioral interview questions. Be sure to use the STAR method when answering.
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