What Are Your Strengths?

Published on 14 June 2010 by Kelly Riggs in Interviewing

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Weights 224x300 What Are Your Strengths?“What are your strengths?”

How many times have you heard that question in an interview? There are few things that are more predictable in an employment interview than questions about your strengths and weaknesses, so I’m sure you’ve spent considerable time examining your answer to these questions….right?

OK, I know you have, but you would be surprised at how many candidates “wing it” when it comes to answering these (and other) common questions. Think about this for just a minute: if you consistently answer the same questions the same way, and have not yet been hired, should you rethink your answers….? (I’m just sayin’.)

Savvy interviewers ask these questions for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, they want to see how you respond. Do you spit out a standard answer that shows little or no thought? Are you confident or shy? Do you stumble over your response? Are you contemplative? Are you genuine or putting on a show? Consider that how you answer is often just as important as what you say.

Second, a good interviewer doesn’t stop with the initial question, but continues to explore your answers with additional questions that probe a little deeper. This allows the interviewer to discover how genuine your answers are, and how you deal with the stress of being pushed a bit. If you chose to regurgitate one of the canned responses available in those interview self-help books, the follow-up questions could pose a bit of a problem.

The best way to deal with the standard “What are your strengths?” question is to find out the true answer. My suggestion is to get a DiSC® profile (available online for $25 to $30) and read carefully through the analysis of your behavioral style. This assessment will provide a number of clues to the work environment you prefer, and will highlight your potential strengths and weaknesses. This exercise will allow you to answer the question and provide objective confirmation.

A second online test that I highly recommend you complete is the Clifton StrengthsFinder®. You can buy the book and take the online assessment for about $14. This assessment will provide tremendous insight into your workplace strengths and give you additional ideas about what occupations or positions will best capitalize on those strengths. This information will not only provide excellent material for answering the “strengths” question, but it will also help you understand exactly what jobs fit you best.

Avoid the trap of preparing for interviews by studying the “pat” answers to interview questions. Instead, spend that time learning about yourself and improving the skills you need to get the job you’re looking for.

One Response to “What Are Your Strengths?”

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