interview/what_are_your_strengths

One of the classic interview questions, and a real opportunity to increase your inputs into the interview. It can also be a great way of putting your foot in your mouth, and sounding like you don't understand the question.

The strengths are all about job related abilities, and are supposed to be tangible qualities which apply to the job.

Not surprisingly, the more strengths you have in relation to the essential criteria of the job, the better.

Example:

The job's essentials are:

Problem solving
Communications
Customer relations
Sales

You need:

Problem solving

Evidence of a strong record of working in an area where problem solving is an obviously important part of the job. You have to be able to give examples of the roles, and the importance of your problem solving abilities. All jobs have some level of problem solving, so pick a good indicator of your best work.

Communications

Communications skills, for the purposes of a job interview, need to be something special to stand out as a strength. Show your skills in terms of your work where it's obvious that communications skills are required to be of a good level of difficulty. Communications is another inevitable requirement of any job, so you can actually do yourself some good with this part of the question.

Customer relations

Customer relations are super important, to any employer. Strengths in this area are valuable. Your examples need to show a combination of depth of experience, combined with obviously useful applications to the job. Customers can be internal and external, so you may find you have both. If so, expand the reference to this strength to include this extra strength.

Sales

Sales, as a strength, is a quite unique attribute. Few people can call sales a strength, and if you can prove a strong sales record, you're quite likely to get this job. This has to be verifiable information, because it can be a winner for you against other candidates.

While explaining your strengths, add a bit about why they're strengths:

Problem solving is a part of the job I love, it's a challenge, sometimes, but it's also an achievement. In my work I've…

Business communications was a skill I had to learn from day one, it's such an essential part of life on the job. In the current job….

Customer relations is a definite strength, because of the need to provide a very high quality service. I've had a lot of experience dealing with…

Sales is a strength because I love the work, I've been very successful. My last sales figures were…

In some jobs you can add a little about character traits.

But frankly, in most conventional jobs the risk of those is irrelevance, unless you're working in a role where personal characteristics are important assets, like social work or child care.

Unless you're specifically asked for that sort of information, be brief, but effective. You add a dimension to your interview content.

Occasionally, you may find that you're actually asked about personal characteristics in a job interview, but it depends on the job.

Some personal traits are included in job ads, things like committed professionals, or other identifiers.

If you happen to be a committed professional, which most professionals are, you can include a straightforward but interesting comment about your commitment to your work.

The idea is to show you do have a level of personal commitment, which is very important in some jobs. The question is usually related to the strengths question, directly or indirectly.

Strengths are assets, to you and to the employer.

Don't overplay or overstate anything.

Stick to what you can prove to be true, and what's relevant to the job.