Job interviews can be daunting, especially if you haven’t done one in a while. But, as with most things, preparation can make all the difference – helping you feel more confident and giving you the best chance of landing the role.

While it’s impossible to prepare for every interview situation, there are a handful of questions that regularly pop up. So, thinking about how you might answer these and writing some answers beforehand can be a great way to get on the front foot.

One of these questions is: ‘What are your strengths?’, which, when answered effectively, can provide a golden opportunity for candidates to showcase their skills and experience. But it can also be challenging.

Below, we look at why interviewers ask this question, before moving on to some advice and example answers.

Why do interviewers ask ‘What are your strengths?’

Why do interviewers ask ‘What are your strengths

When interviewers ask, ‘What are your strengths?’, it may sound quite straightforward. However, as with many other common interview questions, things often aren’t what they seem at first glance.

As the question suggests, employers ask this question to gain insight into whether or not your strengths make you a good fit for the role. However, they don’t just want to know what your strengths are but when you’ve demonstrated them and how they led to positive outcomes in the past.

Other ways of asking this question include: ‘What makes you a good fit for this role?’, ‘What strengths set you apart from other applicants?’, and ‘Tell me about a time you achieved success in your previous role.’

Whatever way it’s phrased, hopefully, the tips below can help you come up with a strong answer.

10 tips for answering: ‘What are your strengths?’

10 tips for answering ‘What are your strengths?

1. Choose three strengths

When preparing for this question, the first step is to choose the strengths you want to discuss.

These can include skill-based strengths, which are learned through education and experience – such as team management and public speaking skills. However, they can also include character-based strengths, like curiosity, integrity, and discipline.

While some employers only want to hear about one, others will ask for multiple. Though you won’t know this until you’re asked, so it’s a good idea to prepare multiple answers (experts generally recommend three) and choose one as your primary strength. This way, you’ll be ready either way.

2. Look at the job description

Over your career, you’ve likely demonstrated many strengths, making it tricky to narrow them down to some of your best.

However, it’s a good idea to focus only on ones that align closely with the role in question. If you’re struggling to think of some, employers often list skills and strengths they’re looking for in job descriptions, so this is a great place to start. Sometimes, they’ll be under headings like ‘preferred skills’, but other times, they’ll be included in the bulk of the description.

3. Be honest

That said, it’s worth remembering that you should only include strengths that you genuinely possess. Being dishonest about your abilities can make you seem inauthentic and cause issues further down the line – whether in the interview process or the job itself.

To make sure you only include genuine strengths, you could try writing a list of your positive attributes first before cross-referencing them with the ones in the job description. This way, you’re less likely to be influenced by what your potential employers have listed.

If you’re struggling to identify your strengths on your own, you could try asking a previous mentor or manager what they think you’re especially good at. Past performance evaluations are also a handy resource.

Be honest

4. Think about the role’s duties and responsibilities

Unfortunately, job descriptions won’t always include a neat list of strengths that you can draw from. In this case, you can look at the role’s duties and responsibilities to determine which of your strengths your interviewer might value highly.

For example, if you’re applying for a receptionist role that involves administrative work and plenty of customer interactions, the odds are that they’re looking for someone with strong communication and organisational skills. Or, if you’re interviewing to become a driving instructor, patience and an ability to remain calm under pressure will likely be invaluable.

You might also find some helpful information in our career change guides, where we typically list desirable skills and strengths for each role.

5. Try to be specific

When choosing your strengths, experts recommend being as specific as possible.

For example, suppose you’re interviewing for a sales job that involves lots of client communication. In this case, you might want to say that one of your strengths is ‘building and maintaining positive relationships with clients’ instead of simply ‘communication skills’.

Being specific about what you can offer can help interviewers imagine you in the role and see exactly how you can be an asset.

6. Back up your answer with real-life examples

Once you’ve chosen your strengths, the next step is to come up with examples of when you’ve used them.

A common mistake interviewees make with this question is simply listing positive attributes one after another. For example: “I’m organised, creative, great at time management, etc.” Not only can this come across as a bit arrogant, but your answer might lack credibility if you don’t back your claims up with real-life instances.

The best examples are those when your strength leads to a positive outcome. For example, say you’re interviewing for a customer service job and want to illustrate how you always go above and beyond. In this case, you could tell a short story about how your hard work led a customer to leave a glowing review about your services.

It can also be helpful to include numbers in these examples when possible. For example: “Under my first year of management, our team reported a 20% growth in sales.” Using specific figures can illustrate the positive impact your actions had and lend your answer some authenticity.

7. Express enthusiasm for using your strengths

Some interview experts also recommend expressing how much you enjoy using your strengths and explaining why. Passion and enthusiasm are desirable qualities in any candidate, and indicate that you’ll continue to use your strengths in the role in question.

For example, if one of your strengths is your team management style, you could conclude your answer with something like, “I get a lot of fulfilment from helping to get the best out of my team.”

Express enthusiasm for using your strengths

8. Link your strengths to the job in question

If it’s not obvious, you might also want to describe specifically how your strength will be an asset in the role you’re interviewing for. This step is especially important for career changers who are using transferable skills as their strengths.

For example, if you’re transitioning from a sales job to a hospitality role, your ability to build positive relationships with clients will help you attract and maintain repeat customers.

9. Try to be confident but humble

Often, one of the trickiest parts of answering this question is striking the right tone. Some applicants tend to downplay their strengths because they don’t want to come across as boastful. For example, they might say, “I’m quite detail-oriented” instead of “I’m very detail-oriented.”

Many of us feel uncomfortable sharing our positive qualities. However, it’s worth remembering that this is an opportunity to sell yourself – so try to make the most of it. If you downplay your strengths, you may risk giving them an incorrect picture of who you are and what you can do.

With that said, research tells us that one of the biggest red flags for interviewers is applicants that are ‘overconfident’, so it’s also important not to come across as cocky. As you can imagine, you probably don’t want to say something like, “I’m the most patient person you’ve ever met.”

With this in mind, try to steer clear of too many adjectives like ‘amazing’ and ‘excellent’. Instead, let your examples do the talking. To borrow the popular writing advice: show, don’t tell. Instead of saying, “I’m a brilliant designer. I’m skilled in all kinds of design software,” it’s best to share examples that demonstrate your versatility – the more specific, the better.

10. Use a four-step formula

To help you come up with succinct and effective answers for this question, try using the three-step formula below…

  • State the strength
  • Give an example of when you used that strength
  • Describe the positive impact that it had
  • Explain how the strength will be an asset in the role (if necessary)

In the next section, you’ll find a few example answers that follow this formula and take into account the tips above…

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Example answers for ‘What are your greatest strengths?’

Example answers for ‘What are your greatest strengths

Example 1

“One of my greatest strengths as a customer service representative is my ability to explain things clearly and patiently. While many of my co-workers simply communicate over email, when my workload allows, I regularly join video calls with customers who are having technical issues, to help them find solutions – which is really fulfilling.

“It’s partly due to this that, two years running, I’ve received the most five-star reviews from customers in our team of representatives. I believe my patience and communication skills will be invaluable in this management role because they’re the key to unlocking the potential of any team.”

Example 2

“My passion for learning new things has been one of my greatest assets so far in my professional life. When I was a writer for, we were looking for new ways to enhance our written content. So, in my spare time, I took a short video production course and created a test video to go alongside an article. As a result, we saw a 20% uplift in engagement.

“I believe this passion for learning will be very useful in a career as a teacher. My curiosity and willingness to go the extra mile when researching lesson plans will help ensure they are detailed and engaging.”

Example 3

“In the past few years, I took a career break to look after my elderly mother, and I’ve come to realise that one of my strengths is my organisational skills. When caring for a family member, there are lots of different tasks to balance – including meals, medications, and appointments. So, to make sure the person you’re looking after has the best quality of care possible, it’s essential to create schedules that work and stick to them.

“I’ve found a great deal of fulfilment and satisfaction through these skills, and I believe they would be invaluable in an office administrator role. This is especially true when it comes to organising records, arranging meetings and appointments, and making sure that equipment is stocked up and accounted for.”

Final thoughts…

We hope these tips and examples have been helpful. But if you only take a few things away, try to remember to be honest, confident but humble, and to back your strengths up with examples, and you’ll be well on your way to crafting great answers.

‘What are your strengths?’ is also typically asked alongside ‘What are your weaknesses?’. So, if you’re wondering where to go next with your interview preparation, you can check out our article on how to answer it.

And for more interview tips and advice, why not head over to our careers section?

Do you have any more tips for answering this question? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.