What is your greatest strength?
That sounds like an easy question, right?
You answer “It’s time-management!” and wait for the interviewer to move on to the next question.
Except, they don’t. They just keep sitting there, as if expecting more from your answer.
“What did I do wrong? I answered the question, didn’t I?”
Yes, you did, but not in the right way. There’s a lot more to this “simple” interview question than it seems.
Want to learn what’s the secret behind the answer for “what’s your greatest strength?”
Read on to find out!
- How to answer “what is your greatest strength?”
- 30+ Greatest strengths examples you can use (for different jobs)
- 4 “What is your greatest strength” interview question answer samples
“What is your greatest strength” is part of our mega-guide to 35 most common job interview questions. Want to ace that interview? Check out the complete guide!
How to Answer “What Is Your Greatest Strength”
Your strengths say a lot about you as a candidate.
By asking you about your strengths, here’s what the interviewer is looking for:
- They want to know if you know your own strengths
- They want to know if you’re realistic
- They want to know if your strengths are relevant for the job
While answering, the HR manager is going to expect examples from you.
So, to answer correctly, you need to convey the above 3 points in your answer and provide a real-life, relevant example of the strength in action.
You can claim you’re the most hard-working person in the world and amazing at time-management, but without providing an example, you might as well be making the whole thing up.
So, when considering which strength to mention, think about when was the last time you used it.
What happened? How did you react to the situation? How did your strength help solve the problem?
Basically, the formulaic approach to answering the question is the following:
- State your strength
- Provide an example of when you used this strength and how
- (Optional) Describe what kind of impact you made
Here’s what a real-life example of what that might look like:
“My biggest strength is that I can think on my feet and can work under a lot of pressure. As an event manager at Company X, we were organizing an IT conference that needed a number of last-minute changes - due to a speaker canceling because of an emergency and 2 of our volunteers not being able to show up.
So, we allocated more time to each speaker and added a QA section at the end of each speech. We also encouraged the present speakers to talk about their business and personal experience more in-depth after they were done with their speech.
As for being understaffed, one day before the conference, I reached out to my network and found 2 students who were willing to help out. I personally met them 2 hours before the conference and got them up to speed with everything we were doing for the day, and gave them their tasks.
In the end, everything went well without any other problems popping up.”
The more specific your example is - the better.
Make sure you also give some background and context if necessary and explain how and why you made the decisions.
You want to make sure your example paints you in a positive light (obviously), but also so that you’re not showing off.
Speaking of, make sure to be humble when talking about your strengths.
You want to flatter yourself, but not to the point where you’re bragging about it.
Talk about your experience matter-of-factly instead of singing praise for yourself.
It’s a good idea to think about your strengths and examples before you go to the interview.
So, sit down, list out what you think your top 3 strengths are, and come up with relevant examples.
If you’re applying for different types of positions, make sure that the strengths you’re going to mention are relevant.
Applying for a role as a waiter? The restaurant manager won’t care about your strength in creative ad design
30+ Greatest Strength Examples
Not sure what your top strengths are?
Here’s a list of some of the greatest strengths you can use during an interview based on your position and industry.
Analytical Jobs Strengths
Applying for a position as an analyst, software developer, database analyst, or anything in-between?
Consider using the following strengths (as long as you can back them up with examples, of course):
- Critical thinking
- Analytical thinking
Creative Jobs Strengths
Working in the creative industry?
You can say that your greatest strength is:
Management Jobs Strengths
Born-leader, working as a manager? Use some of these strengths to show off your managerial skills:
- Communication skills
Hands-On Jobs Strengths
Working in retail? Service industry?
You can say that you are:
- Good at multitasking
Communication Jobs Strengths
Finally, if your job involves sales, customer support, or something along those lines, you can mention that your greatest strength is any of the following:
- Communication skills
To recap, here are the list of strengths based on the type of job you’re applying for:
4 “What Is Your Greatest Strength” Answer Samples
Looking for more inspiration on how to answer “what is your greatest strength?”
Here are 4 more sample answers for:
- Experienced professionals
- Recent graduates
- Service industry workers
- Prospective students
Greatest Strength Answer Sample for Experienced Professional
I’m a very good writer.
My last 2 jobs were 99% copywriting. So far, I’ve done pretty much everything writing related: email marketing, website copy, blog posts, I’ve even ghost-written an e-book for a client.
I’ve also guest-posted on several popular blogs, such as Blog X and Blog Y.
Greatest Strength Answer Sample for Student or Recent Graduate
I work pretty well under pressure. When I was studying at University X, I’ve had several situations where I had to come up with a solution to some problem or another with a very limited time frame.
During a class on Databases, we had to come up with a relational database for a fake business. Our team lead turned out to be extremely unorganized - he organized a single meeting, gave us some vague tasks, and we never heard from him again.
I already had some experience working with databases, so I did my part in advance and started waiting for the rest of the team. I was in charge of doing the design, and the team was supposed to translate the schema into an actual database.
Around a week before the deadline, I saw that no one was doing anything, so I organized a sync meeting.
Turns out the rest of the team didn’t do anything, and the team lead was out of town. So, I had to take charge of the team and make sure we had the project ready by the deadline. I personally helped each of my teammates' help do their part, and also organized 2 more sync meetings to make sure we did everything right.
Eventually, we ended up submitting the project on time AND getting an A.
Greatest Strength Answer Sample for Service Industry
I’m very communicative and really get along with people.
After 3 years of experience in the service industry, I have no problem with building instant rapport and actively engaging with customers.
I’m also pretty good at performing under pressure. At Restaurant X, there was constant chaos, especially during peak season.
The place was completely packed at all times, and the whole thing felt like a race against time. I actually enjoyed the experience, though. Ended up going back 3 summers in a row.
Greatest Strength Answer Sample for University Admissions
I would say that it’s my time-management skill by far.
During my senior year, I managed to maintain a 3.7 GPA, while at the same time doing a ton of different extracurricular activities. Specifically, I’ve volunteered, was part of the student council, and part of the managing team of the business club.
I’m a huge fan of scheduling pretty much everything I do. I need to know what I’m doing, when, and how long it’s going to take me. This way, I’ve never missed a deadline, assignment, or any other responsibility.
On the other hand, you could also say that that’s my weakness, haha. If the organization or team is unorganized, I’m not going to be too happy working with them.
And that’s a wrap!
Before we say “bye,” let’s quickly go through everything we’ve learned in this article…
- For each position you’re applying for, think of your top 2-3 strengths that are going to help you excel. We’d recommend doing the thinking before you even go to the interview.
- When answering, mention what your top strengths are, provide examples on how you’ve used them in the past, and finally, describe the results you’ve gotten.
- Be super specific with your answers. Don’t just say “I’m good at X” - really dive deep and give the interviewer a comprehensive answer.
Need help with your job search? Maybe your resume needs work, or you want to learn how to write a compelling cover letter?
Whichever the case is, be sure to check out our career blog. We cover industry-leading advice on how to excel in your career!
Read about more common interview questions + answers:
- 21+ Behavioral Interview Questions
- 19+ STAR Interview Questions - Complete List
- 10+ Situational Interview Questions & Answers [Complete List]
- What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
- What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?
- Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?
- What Are Your Career Goals?
- Tell Me About Yourself
- Why Do You Want to Work Here?
- Why Should We Hire You?
Find more tips to ace your next interview: