Talking about strengths in an interview

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Question: What are your key strengths?

You might think that during an interview the easiest part would be discussing your attributes or strengths. However, many people have just as much trouble highlighting their skills and expertise as they do framing their weaknesses in an interview. So here are several tips that will help you plan so you can answer this question with confidence!

    1. Assess your skills ahead of time

Looking over your past experience and choosing several experiences where you shined (maybe a job, but perhaps group work or a particular project even) will help to reiterate your points in your own mind. If you are familiar with what you want to say, you’ll likely not be as nervous talking about them in an interview.

    1. Choose strengths that best align with the job you are interviewing for

Many of us could highlight several things we do well, but keep in mind that not all strengths are relevant to a particular job. During an interview your job is to convince the employer that you are the “best fit” for the position. So pick strengths that you can apply to aspects of the job you are interviewing for.

    1. Be specific

In almost all aspects of your career, specific examples and valid data will be in high demand. The more specific you can be, especially keeping relevance to the job at hand in mind, the stronger your skills will be perceived. Additionally, it definitely helps to show how your strength helped to achieve a particular goal, or result in a quantifiable value. Certainly every candidate will say they are “organized” or a “team player” … Make it clear how you stand apart from the crowd!

    1. Integrate your strengths early on

Don’t wait for this question to come up to start discussing your accomplishments. Consistently referring to achievements and strengths from your previous experience, and making that connection to your future success will better help the employer in seeing how well you would do if hired. You certainly don’t need to gush about your good work, but think of the interview as narrating a story, so you can refer back to something previously discussed, and then build upon it.

Hopefully these tips will help you assess your strengths, identify the relevant ones for an interview, and discuss them with confidence!

What are some of the strengths you have previously highlighted in an interview?


Ryan is a part of the Master of International Management full-time 2012 cohort, and a MIM Student Ambassador. Currently he works within the Willamette Valley wine industry as a social media consultant, and wants to broaden his career in marketing to a global level through the MIM program. His favorite aspects of MIM are networking with other students from around the world and learning Mandarin Chinese. Ryan is passionate about food, wine, and travel and writes on these topics for other sites. Visit Ryan’s site here.

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