It is important to prepare in advance for the interview question what are your strong points. If you’ve already listed your strengths when preparing your CV / resume, coming up with three answers shouldn’t be too difficult.
But be careful. The interviewer is asking you to sell yourself, but at the same time, they do not want to hear you being arrogant. And while they may want to know about your personality (if you are over confident they will certainly learn something about you), do remember that this is still an interview situation, so your answers must be relevant to the job in question. In other words, don’t get too personal.
So how do you go about answering the interview question what are your strong points? The general recommendation is to prepare at least three answers and to relate them to the organisation and the vacancy. This means you need to tailor your answers. Ensure there is truth in what you say, but do not be too honest, especially it makes you sound like a less than ideal candidate.
Here are some suggested responses and the reasons why they might work in interviews for certain kinds of jobs.
“I am confident and outgoing”
This is a response that says something about your personality, but if you are applying for a role where you need to relate to a lot of people – particularly the public – it will serve your purposes. However, if the vacancy involves consultation, it might be better to say “I have good interpersonal skills”, as this implies that you are able to listen to people as well.
“I enjoy a challenge”
Be careful with this. It is an excellent response if the vacancy requires problem solving, or servicing of some kind, working to tight deadlines or project completion. It will obviously not be helpful if the job is less dynamic and involves a larger amount of regular, less exciting duties – the employer might be concerned that you will become bored. You could always qualify it to offer a more balanced response: “I enjoy a challenge, but I’m also happy completing regular tasks.” Then it illustrates that you’re flexible and responsive to different work situations.
“I’m a strong team leader”
Clearly, this is appropriate if the job involves managing people. It’s a good idea to show that you know what leading a team involves (although this will no doubt come up in other questions too). So, “I’m a strong team leader with the ability to motivate others” and “I’m a strong team leader who leads by example” represent stronger answers. Draw on your own understanding of your management skills plus the job description to decide what you’ll say here.
“I am ambitious”
This is a very strong answer and you should use it with care. In the wrong situation, it can sound hard-headed and the employer may wonder whether you’ll compete too fiercely with your colleagues, or even your superiors. However, in a sales role it might be perfect, especially if you focus your response a little more: “I am ambitious and aim to exceed targets”.
“I am dedicated and hard working”
You’re on safe ground here, as this can be true whatever your individual working style. It’s not the most exciting answer, but when presented alongside two others that are more individual, it should offer reassurance to the interviewer.
“I am a good communicator”
Again, this is a win-win answer. Be prepared to expand, though: specify whether you have strong writing skills, are good at explaining difficult ideas in a simple way, or perform well at important meetings.
“I work well without supervision”
A majority of employers would be pleased to hear this, providing the vacancy is at a level where they’d normally expect you to need a degree of supervision. But be careful not to sound as if you prefer to work without supervision, as this may sound as if you risk coming into conflict with your supervisor or manager. A safer option might be to state “I work well with or without supervision”.
“I enjoy learning through my work”
Again, this is a safe answer. The interviewer might then ask how you have done this in the past, so be ready to give details of some hands-on learning or special training you’ve experienced, and to say why you enjoyed it.
These examples show that when preparing an answer to the interview question what are your strong points, it is important to consider whether your responses could be taken the wrong way. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes – you can then ensure that the potential for a negative interpretation is removed.