We all know why interviews are not our favorite things… The first impressions, the uncertainty, and the seemingly easy-to-answer interview questions, like “What are your biggest weaknesses?” or “Why should we hire you?“.
If you finally found a job you are interested in, but already anxious about the interview, proper preparation is the key! Read more about how to list up some of your strengths without sounding too arrogant and over-confident, but rather convincing and extraordinary!
What to do?
First and foremost: be aware of your strengths. Everyone has their very own set of skills and as Lisa, the founder of Female Founders said in our interview with her, the best thing in the startup environment is that everyone is such a very different character. When you already know your strengths, they you should go ahead with our next tips:
- Assess the job requirements. Don’t just come up with skills, but truly align your answer to the requirements listed. If the description mentions “strong communication skills”, don’t say exactly this. Come up with something related, like conflict management, outspokenness, or taking initiative.
- You should highlight qualities that also show other good qualities. Let’s take our first example, “respect”: the answer expresses, that you are not just respectful, but also patient, cooperative, have good conflict management skills, care about others, etc.
- Pick suitable ones. You shouldn’t mention a strength just because it sounds cool. It sure is nice to be creative or structured, but if that’s not you, be honest! There are so many other strengths that are probably suitable, and with the right phrasing and explanation, it will sound like a kick-ass quality!
- Showing that you are hard-working is the most important thing. In the startup world skills are important, but not the most important things. As both the founder of Trending Topics, Bastian Kellhofer and the founder of Shpock, Katharina Klausberger mentioned in our interviews, hiring for approach and attitude towards work is more important than skills! If you have a hard-working personality, let it shine and put some attention on that! If you have some lacking knowledge, that’s fine – until you can show commitment to learning whatever is needed to be learned. We didn’t specifically list this as a strength because to some extent this should be represented in all your strengths.
What not to do?
- Don’t think it’s an easy question. You might have the answers in your mind, but when it comes to sharing them in a structured and rather formal way, it is way harder than you’d think.
- Don’t be shy. This is your chance to let yourself shine! Even if you’re an introvert person, you should make yourself comfortable with some self-branding since the interviewer asks you this question in order to really get an answer.
- Don’t be arrogant. You shouldn’t list up all the strengths you can find in the dictionary and give baroque-like examples for half an hour. Mention 3-4 strengths with examples, and that’s it. Stay humble: sometimes less is more!
- Don’t mention strengths that are not relevant for the job or are too simple to acquire. Are you a team player and creative? Why not cooperative and a master of lateral thinking? If you want to include rather generic skills, try to think of a more creative and unconventional way to present them.
Best examples to “What are your greatest strengths?”
These will give you a good overview of some of the good examples and their appropriate explanations.
“Usually there is a great amount of teamwork. In conflicts I always thrive for respecting my colleagues and accept their opinions. Same when I need to give feedback: I try to give criticism in a friendly and constructive way, showing that I respect the other person, and just have a different opinion or approach about certain things.”
“I can easily arrange my own tasks and priorities without anyone else telling me what to do and how. Of course, the input is always welcome, but I’m not afraid to work alone. What is inevitable, is to provide reports so the rest of the team and my supervisors know what I’m working on and how high my efforts actually are.”
“When I face a challenge, I always try to find a solution by thinking out-of-the-box and questioning the basic principles of the problem. I think, in order to stick out from the competition, you always have to do things differently, and that’s only possible if you question everything and then come up with creative, disruptive solutions.”
“I usually recognize things that need to be done, and in order to fasten the process, I’m not afraid to start fixing or professionalizing things on my own. Does it mean to work sometimes longer or harder? Yes, but it’s worth it because the results speak for themselves, and that makes me really proud!”
“I don’t like to simply listen to my guts when an important decision is being made. I prefer to look at the problem from many different angles like what are we really trying to achieve or to do a benchmark on the available information. I also consider various (long-term) implications and scenarios for the results. That’s how I can make myself and my team prepared for any possibility!”
“I usually find myself recognising patterns and correlations between seemingly unrelated things. I don’t get confused by some irrelevant details, I like to keep my focus on what is really important. That’s why I like dealing with data: from different datasheets, it’s not hard for me to aggregate my findings and reveal yet unrevealed correlations.”
Creative Design & Writing
“I work with numbers and excel sheets all the time, but I like to have creativity as my hidden talent. After a long day of reporting, I enjoy playing around with presentation designs or even temporarily help out the marketing department with some social assets or general brainstorming!”
“I’m interested in many different things and fields, which allows me to examine a problem from many different angles. Is it a project about international expansion? Data, multiculturality, logistics, legal requirements… even if I am not an expert in every field, I love to get a 360º overview to fully understand, what are the main contributing factors and the pitfalls that might occur.”
“I’m a really patient person when it comes to dealing with people. I know that we are all different and have very distinctive characteristics with different views to approach things. During the onboarding period of a new colleague, for example, I have no problem with explaining something even 100 times, if it helps my colleague to do their work efficiently.”
“In my opinion, the most important contributor to a well-balanced time-management is a good structure. Extensive to-do lists, prioritization, highlighting responsibilities, and transparency are all extremely important. I don’t like to over structure though, because eventually, more time can go to waste. Collecting everything in one place and then structuring things when it makes sense, is my way to go!”
Other examples we recommend:
- Working under pressure
- Strong working ethic
- Attention to detail
- Organizational skills
- Discipline and determination
- Conflict Management
- Creative Thinking: This was also one of the characteristics Oliver Holle, the Founder of Speedinvest had to learn – listen to what he has to say in our interview with him!
Don’t forget, at the end of the day the most important thing is to continuously aim at improving yourself: as the founder of Planetly, Anna Alex said in our founder talk interview, simply “do what you’re best at and work on your strengths rather than on your weaknesses, because we all have and need to have some weaknesses”.
And after you picked some top-notch strengths and also convinced the hiring manager that you are the absolute best, it’s time to negotiate your salary!