This is how you should answer “What are your strengths?”
Original article by Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company
It’s one of the most common interview questions. These are the answers that hiring managers say they are looking for.
While hard skills are often necessary to fulfill job requirements, soft skills can set you apart from the rest, according to a recent survey by NetQuote. The company polled hiring mangers to find out which answers to that strengths question were the best received. Here are the top five:
“I’m a good problem solver”
From creative to technical, problem solving is a universal skill that can apply to any occupation and industry. Forty-two percent of hiring managers chose this answer as being in their top-three favorite responses.
“Compared to some other strengths, problem solving can feel like a more concrete skill that yields immediate benefits,” says Rita Murphy, spokesperson for NetQuote. “Focusing on problem solving implies that a candidate possesses secondary skills including critical thinking, strategic thinking, and leadership.”
Demonstrate your problem-solving abilities by sharing the results of the problems you solved. For example, “During my two-year stint as a client liaison, I increased customer satisfaction ratings in my department by 25%” or “In an industry known for high turnover, I retained 95% of the employees in my department during my tenure.”
“I’m a good communicator”
Having strong communication skills can be pivotal to your job hunt. “LinkedIn created a list of skills that job seekers should have in 2018, and communication was ranked as a top soft skill to possess,” says Murphy.
In fact, 32% of hiring managers chose communication as a top answer to the strengths question. “Communication encompasses not only speaking skills, but also your ability to lead, critique, and ask for help,” says Murphy. “Being adept in various communication methods also shows emotional intelligence.”
“I have strong time management skills”
Thirty percent of hiring managers said that time management was a desirable ability in a job candidate.
“Time management is more than just completing tasks on time,” says Murphy. “An employer cares about how you spend the time leading up to a deadline as well.”
Demonstrate your strength in this area by sharing how you prioritize your daily tasks. “Using the 80/20 rule for project prioritization can show how you best schedule your time to give your full attention to critical project tasks,” says Murphy. “Another way to show good time management skills is through a healthy work-life balance. A hiring manager may not ask about your personal life, but by sharing your hobbies or volunteer projects, you are also proving that you have the ability to manage and juggle multiple obligations.”
In a day where transparency is becoming more valued, honesty is an important strength for any position; 21% of hiring managers like to hear this in candidates.
“Hiring managers want to know that you will be trustworthy in your position,” says Murphy. “It can be difficult to maintain a workplace that fosters integrity, especially in heavily competitive industries. If the person is going to be in a management role, it is even more important to have demonstrable honest skills.”
To demonstrate your honesty, consider sharing a time when you made a mistake and how you resolved it. “The hiring manager will be able to grasp the applicant’s ability to handle difficult situations, and honestly interpret their response and the ability to learn from it,” says Murphy.
“I’m very determined”
Rounding out the top-five answers is determination, mentioned by 20% of hiring managers as being important. Determination shows that the applicant knows what they’re looking for in their next role and beyond, says Murphy.
Demonstrate your determination by sharing where you see yourself in the future. Hiring managers want to see applicants who aren’t just looking for longevity with a company; they’re searching for someone who has future plans that they are working toward, says Murphy.