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4 Steps to Playing up your Strengths in an Interview

April 02, 2013

Job interviews are rarely easy. You need to show your body of work, study ways to respond totough interview questions, learn about the company, and more. But what happens when you have to talk about your own strengths? It sounds like the best part, right? But when the question gets thrown at you in the heat of the moment, it can be hard to remember what you do well, or ineven worse cases, what you do at all. Here are a few tips to help you play up your core strengths during an interview:

1. Create a quick list of situations where you thrive  

Many career sites will recommend you create a list of all of your best traits and skills to give you a sense of what you need to focus on. While creating a laundry list of all your skills is helpful, it doesn’t necessarily help your storytelling during an interview. Take it a step further and think about specific situations where you thrive. When do you kick butt and take names? Is it when you facilitate conversation between developers, or when you write requirements for the upcoming project? Did you step into an interim leadership role at one point? Think of pressure situations where you came out on top and the skills you used to get the job done. Not only will you discover what skills you really have, you’ll remember a story that exemplifies how they create value for an organization.

2. Frame your strengths to fit the job description

So you’ve discovered a couple of strengths that you can show off at the interview, great. The next step is figuring out how you can position them to match the demands of the position for which you are interviewing. Carole Martin, Contributing Writer for Monster, explains how important it is to answer the question “What are your strengths?” with a structured answer. “When confronted with this interview question, remember the interviewer is looking for a fit. She is forming a picture of you based on your answers… Put your energy into your strengths statement — what you have to offer.” With that in mind, consider which of your strengths matches most with what the interviewer is looking for. You may have 55 different strengths, but you only have time to highlight a few so make them count.

3. Provide Key Performance Indicators to demonstrate achievements

Using anecdotes and storytelling to show your value is a great strategy, but you can take it to another level when you introduce your KPI’s (key performance indicators) from your previous positions and tie them into those strengths. We discussed the value of KPI’s in resumes during ourlast Think IT OMG meeting, and the same idea can be applied during the interview. Interviewers want to see the results you created as proof that your core strengths have tangible value.

4. Deliver with confidence

All of the preparation and planning in the world won’t do any good in the interview if you can’t present yourself well. Varying your inflections and projecting your voice are key elements to delivering your message and highlighting your strengths, but body language speaks just as loudly. We’ve talked a great deal about the importance of body language and other nonverbal traits (even when you’re doing a Skype interview), and it will continue to be true. Here are some scary facts from 67% of interviewees fail to make eye contact, 38% of them don’t smile enough, and 33% have bad posture. Throughout this process, you’ve discovered a lot of strengths and a number of ways to highlight them here; don’t let something like a dead fish handshake or a slouching be your undoing.

How do you go about highlighting your own core strengths? Share your advice with our readers in the comments section below!

Posted By: James Sweeney


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