One of the most dreaded interview questions to answer is “what are your strengths?”. Imagine you are in Mabira forest with friends, you see a lion coming to your direction and you have only five minutes to decide who is going to do what to defend the group! Is it fighting the lion? Running away? Screaming as the lion approaches? or just leaving everything to God’s mercy. This scenario shows that everyone’s life depends on their honesty and self-awareness. Before answering the“what are your strengths” interview question the candidate must understand, what an interviewer/employer is looking for when they ask about one’s strengths.
So when responding, the candidate should focus on both self-awareness and confidence. Bring out clearly the skills needed to do the job and they must be tailored to match those requested in the job advert. If the candidate has been employed before, it is important to explain how the mentioned skills were used to achieve results or to accomplish tasks. It is important to split the skills into three categories namely; job-related skills, these match with the job one is applying for. Transferable skills are used at any job in any industry, for example, the ability to communicate and manage effectively.
Adaptive/soft/personal skills are uniquely attributed to an individual, for example, being creative and innovative. For each strength, the candidate should provide evidence using the Situation, Task, Action, and Results (STAR) method. For instance; explain the situation, which required you to solve a problem, using that particular skill, or come up with a new idea. Task explains the action that the job requires in such a situation. Action; describe the action that was taken and Result; illustrate the successes with numbers and details where possible. This helps to reinforce the impact the action had.
In case the strengths and weaknesses are asked at the same time, discuss the weakness first and end on a positive note. When addressing the weaknesses, focus on skills/habits or personality traits. First, state the weakness, show how this trait has emerged in your professional life. That will give potential employers insight into your level of self-awareness and commitment to professional growth.