How to highlight and sell your strengths at an interview

Aug 17, 2015

Highlight Your Strengths and Ace Any Interview!

Congratulations! You’ve cleared the first hurdle in the selection process and secured an interview for your dream job. Now you need to make sure that you stand out from all the other job candidates when it comes to meeting your interviewer face to face—and for the right reasons.

One of the key questions every interview panel asks is some version of “What do you consider to be your main strengths?”, so don’t be surprised when it comes up. Sit down and review your background experience, your own personal qualities, and the skills you have developed before deciding which ones you should focus on. It should be the one that makes you the best candidate for whatever position you are seeking. Practice talking about your strengths beforehand, so that you will be ready for the question when you walk into that interview.

Tips on how to sell your strengths at an interview

Here are some tips to help you present your strengths in the best light:

  1. Prepare: Make a list of at least 10 of your key strengths and don’t go for the predictable ones. Ignore your inner critic and write everything down. For example, consider specific experience you have with a software package, skills you have developed that will be useful for this job, training you have in relevant areas, qualifications, internships, seminars you have attended etc.
  2. Edit:Whittle down your list to a minimum of five relevant strengths that you are confident talking about (or will be confident discussing after some practice). Make sure you have enough on your list to give yourself options.
  3. Develop: Once you have decided on your list of strengths, think of an example or story to back up each of them. Make it interesting but remember it has to be relevant too.
  4. Be Truthful: Never choose a strength just because it is in the job description. Ensure you actually possess that strength. You will be far more convincing and likeable if you talk about your actual strengths.
  5. Get Specific: Don’t be vague about the strengths you choose to discuss. Something like “people skills,” for example, is too broad; a better alternative is “persuasive communication” or “relationship building.” Not sure? If the majority of your friends could also list the same strength, drop it and choose another one.
  6. Avoid False Modesty: You won’t get the job by describing how pleasant you are. You want this job, so you have to point out the strengths you have that make you the best candidate for the position and present them confidently.
  7. Practice: Once you have created a list of strengths that you are happy with, practice talking about them with someone else. Be specific and concise—your interviewer will be seeing many different candidates that day, so practicing beforehand will help ensure you hold his or her attention. Your answer should not be more than two minutes long. If you decide to discuss three strengths, for example, practice presenting each with an appropriate example in a concise and interesting way.

Having followed the tips here on how to sell your strengths at an interview you will be in for a better chance of getting that top job you are after. Identifying and talking about your strengths will help you to come across more relaxed and therefore naturally at the interview.

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