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How to answer, ‘what are your greatest strengths?’

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Published: 4 November 2021

Student listening to Health and Wellbeing Manager 

We all have things we’re great at. Skills that come more naturally to us than our fellow students, theories and ideas we understand with greater ease.  

If you are lucky, at your next interview you might get asked to talk about the things you’re good at.  

Although that might sound easy, something you won’t need to prepare much for, you would be surprised how tricky it can be to put together a really good answer.  

Why do you get this question?  

The interviewer isn’t just giving you an opportunity to brag about yourself when they ask this.  

Remember, every question you get is designed to help them decide if you are the right person for that role.  

They’re looking to see if your strengths align with the needs and beliefs of the company.   

You might be incredible at maths, for example, but if your role is writing tweets, it might not be that useful.  

How you can mess it up  

Yes, it’s completely possible to get this question wrong, or rather talk about your strengths in a less than useful way.  

Number one in this is failing to reflect on what exactly they are.   

It’s not a good idea to wing any interview question but it looks particularly unprepared if you can’t think of what you’re good at in the moment.  

Another issue a lot of people have is being too humble. Although it’s not a good idea to exaggerate your skills, you should be honest about them.  

If you’re more introverted, this can be difficult which is why preparation for this question is so important.  

What are your strengths?  

The next thing to do is work out what your strengths actually are.  

Sit down with a pen and piece of paper and write out everything you think you’re good at.  

Take examples from your university work as well as your external life, whether that’s from your current job, family or hobbies.  

Then put them in order of most to least relevant ones for the role you’re applying to and narrow that down to the top five.  

For each one come up with an example that shows off that strength and you’ll come away with the start of several really good answers to the question.  

What if I don’t have any strengths?  

First off, that’s complete rubbish. Everyone, no matter their experiences in life, has strengths.  

Many of these reflect transferable skills that employers will appreciate in their employees.  

If you’re struggling to come up with your strengths, why not ask your friends and family.  

The people that care about you’re the most will likely have a positive image of you that might be difficult for you to see.  

You might be surprised by their answers.  

However you choose to answer this question, taking the time to work out your strengths goes well beyond an individual interview.  

It can be a really positive experience that shows you just how great you are and might even give you some inspiration for the kinds of roles you would enjoy in the future.  

Whatever you decide to do with your future, the University of Sunderland in London Careers and Employability Service is here to help.  

To have a one-to-one chat with them, book a meeting through Compass or email out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.