Interview questions and answers: Greatest strength

The two self assessment interview questions about 'strengths and weaknesses' are often seen as nuisance questions by interviewees. The questions aren't seen as directly relevant to the job, or sometimes even embarrassing.

They're very relevant, because they're really about the applicants. The interviewers usually don't know the interviewees. This interview question puts them on the spot.

The 'greatest strength' interview answers can be very diverse. There are a range of subjects interviewees can address.

Useful subjects for the 'greatest strength' interview question:

  • Motivation
  • Job skills
  • Personal characteristics

You'll use at least two of these elements in your interview answer. Personal assessment interview questions of this type require a description of the elements. You couldn't simply say you were 'motivated', because you'd need to explain what motivates you.

Motivation

This type of interview question needs to be considered carefully. Motivations can include career goals, personal values and goals, or anything which inspires you. Relate your interview answer to the job, so you can show how your motivation operates. For example: 'I'm very motivated by my career goals. They inspire me to work hard to advance my career. '

Job skills

In some cases job skills are very real strengths and form the basis of very good interview answers. Your skills are strengths, which allow you to perform well. The interview question is looking for depth, and this is highly relevant.

Personal characteristics

Determination, dedication, a passion for your work, and other similar characteristics are definite skills. Commitment to your work or profession are also good strong characteristics. Remember that this interview question is looking for clear information, and it's not psychoanalysis. If you say you're dedicated, you need to say why you're dedicated. Your interview answer has to make logical sense.

Good interview answers naturally use these elements together, to describe their strengths, because they both explain and qualify each other. When answering the interview question, a person whose strength is their motivation will also have a passion for the work, and strong job skills.

Example

This interview question is for a social worker in a counseling position. It's intended to probe for character and dedication, because this is a very demanding role.

The interview question is 'What are your greatest strengths?', plural.

'My greatest strengths are personal motivation and commitment. I'm motivated by my passion for the work. I have strong skills in counseling and my motivation and commitment are reinforced by the knowledge that I'm achieving something in an role I care about deeply.'

Analysis

This interview answer demonstrates:

  • Personal values related to the job
  • Integrated skills using the motivation and commitment
  • Career orientation of personal and professional character
  • Goals relate to achievements in the role

The applicant's strengths are directly related to the work, both in terms of practical skills and dedication to the counseling role. There are clear indications that the applicant is personally focused on achievements.