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Among the other interview classics—like “Tell me about yourself,” “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” and “What are some of your weaknesses?”—“What is your greatest strength?” seems like a pretty innocuous question.

But that doesn’t mean you can skip preparing for it. In fact, answer it well, and it’s one of the best ways you can show off your skills and stand out among other candidates.

Here how to do just that.

How to answer “What are your greatest strengths?”

The great news is that answering this interview question really boils down to two basic steps:

1. Choose a strength (or strengths).

Think strategically about what skills will position you as qualified for the job and a good addition to the company. Does the position require client interaction? Communication and relationship building make sense. Or if the environment is fast-paced and constantly evolving—your ability to multitask, adapt, and learn quickly would be good to highlight. A great way to approach this question is to think about skills you really want to emphasize during the interview, but haven’t had the chance to talk about yet.

You can also use this question to show that you’d really add to the company culture. Assuming you’ve done the crucial legwork of researching the company prior to interviewing, you should have a good sense of how the company perceives its own uniqueness. One company might be known for caring about loyalty. Another company might be notorious for how much it values open communication. Of course, you can only use this strategy if your personal values do truly align with the company’s.

To walk that line between confident and arrogant, definitely don’t just list a bunch of nice adjectives to describe yourself. Instead choose one to three attributes you want to mention (depending on whether the question asks for one strength or multiple) and cap it there. The worst response I’ve ever heard to this question was a full minute-long monologue during which the interviewee proceeded to list a string of positive attributes (outgoing, detail-oriented, hardworking, independent, friendly, easy-going, you name it) and just kept talking. One of the adjectives chosen was actually “humble.” I was speechless.

2. Back your strengths up with stories.

What’s more important than the strengths you choose is being able to back up your claims. Don’t just expect the interviewer to believe you without some evidence.

Start off by answering the question directly, and then segue into a story that shows off your skills. Make sure that you give any needed context for your interviewer to understand the story, describe clearly how you used your strength to solve a problem or improve something for your team or company, and share the impact that it had.

For example, your answer could sound like:

“I think some of my greatest strengths are my communication skills and willingness to take initiative. During my last internship, when I was helping to manage several social media accounts, I made sure that everyone on the team was on the same page and knew what our messaging strategy was by taking the initiative to send out a weekly email to keep the team up to date and to seek feedback. This ended up being so helpful that the weekly social media update was incorporated into a full-time staff member’s responsibilities.”

Read More: The Best Way to Talk About Your Strengths and Weaknesses in a Job Interview

50+ example strengths to talk about in a job interview

Struggling to think of one (or two or three) strengths to talk about in your interview? Here’s a list of examples. But keep in mind that these are fairly broad, so you’ll want to make sure you have stories to show how they’re specifically helpful for this job at this organization.

Analytical strengths

These strengths aren’t just important if you’re interviewing for a job with analyst in the title:

  • Coming up with innovative solutions
  • Interpreting data and/or results
  • Making decisions
  • Noticing small details
  • Recognizing patterns
  • Solving problems
  • Thinking critically
  • Troubleshooting
  • Visualizing data

Communication strengths

If you’ll have to interact with anyone inside or outside the organization, your communication skills will be vital.

  • Building relationships
  • Communicating in writing
  • De-escalating conflict
  • Giving constructive feedback
  • Handling tough conversations
  • Listening actively
  • Making conversation with new people
  • Negotiating
  • Providing customer service
  • Speaking or writing persuasively
  • Speaking to groups of people
  • Telling stories
  • Writing clearly

Management strengths

Whether or not you’ll be in a formal management role, showing your strengths as they come to leading others could pay off.

  • Being aware of disabilities
  • Being aware of diversity
  • Creating roadmaps
  • Delegating
  • Focusing on the process
  • Focusing on the results
  • Handling conflicts
  • Identifying employee strengths and weaknesses
  • Managing projects
  • Motivating employees
  • Mentoring employees
  • Setting deadlines
  • Setting realistic goals

Teamwork strengths

Before choosing one of these strengths, think of how you’ll most likely be working with teams in this role.

  • Accepting and incorporating feedback
  • Being dependable
  • Being willing to go above and beyond to help others
  • Communicating across functions
  • Having high emotional intelligence
  • Noticing when others need help
  • Responding to changes in a situation
  • Taking charge when needed

Work style strengths

These strengths are more about how you approach things and get them done and they’re a great way to show you’d work well with a team already in place.

  • Being adaptable
  • Being proactive
  • Collaborating with others
  • Finding creative solutions
  • Focusing on the small details
  • Focusing on the big picture
  • Multitasking
  • Prioritizing
  • Switching between different tasks quickly
  • Self motivating
  • Working well under pressure

Job-specific strengths

Depending on your job function and where you’ll be working, there are likely to be some highly specific strengths you have that would really add to the team or the workplace. Consider if you have strengths in any of these areas.

  • Bringing experience with a problem that the company is currently facing
  • Bringing knowledge to the table from another area or field that you may encounter frequently (for example, maybe you’re a marketer with sales knowledge, a data analyst who can spot grammar issues in presentations and reports, or someone who’s fluent in a second language commonly spoken by clients or customers)
  • Expertly using a common piece of software
  • Offering unique but valuable talents or skills that not many people have (for example, knowledge of a new software or quickly changing field)
  • Spotting specific types of errors

Sample answers to “What is your greatest strength?”

Here are a few more example answers to questions about your greatest strengths:

A greatest strength answer about identifying patterns

“I’d say that one of my greatest strengths is identifying patterns. For example, as a junior operations analyst, I noticed that at a company my team was consulting for, mistakes tended to happen in clusters, but not always on the same days of the week or ahead of deadlines. But then, looking at the company’s meeting schedule, I noticed that all of the clusters happened on days where there was a staff meeting from 3 to 4 p.m. I realized that after these meetings, people must be either rushing to finish by 5 p.m. or not fully focusing after a meeting so late in the day. Once I pointed this out, the company made a policy where all larger meetings had to be over by 3 p.m., and these spikes in mistakes disappeared, leading to a 15% decrease in refunds.”

A greatest strength answer about building relationships

“My greatest strength is probably my ability to build strong relationships with my clients. I love meeting and getting to know new people so I always approach each new account as an opportunity to make a new work friend. By asking questions about my contacts and really listening to their answers, I’m usually able to build a strong rapport and I credit these relationships with my 90% renewal rate. I’ve even had contacts from clients move to different companies and then request to work with me again.”

A greatest strength answer about putting yourself in someone else's shoes

“I think that one of my biggest strengths is being able to identify questions and issues that our users will have surrounding a new product or feature. I’m good at putting myself in the shoes of different types of users, and flagging questions the product team may not have accounted for. Sometimes they’re able to fix these issues, but even if they can’t, the product marketing team can be proactive about addressing them. One time, a new product launch necessitated removing the live chat functionality from our website, which made sense from a product perspective but not from a customer service perspective. I knew people were going to have questions about both the new product and our existing products and being able to respond to them quickly is key. Unfortunately the product team wasn’t able to have the chat function ready in time, but they were able to make other ways to contact us more visible on every page of the site and we were able to prioritize answering user emails while the chat function was gone.

A greatest strength answer about emotional awareness and teamwork

“I’m good at reading people, and especially at recognizing when they need help. In a senior business class, we had a group project where each person needed to give a five-minute segment of our presentation in front of a large group. From the first meeting, I could tell that one student was especially uncomfortable with the idea of speaking in front of a crowd, so when it came time to pick our sections, I directed the conversation so that he’d be able to choose what he was most comfortable talking about. I also reached out to him later in the process and asked if he’d like to do some practice sessions together. He was eager to, and he was able to open up about his social anxiety one-on-one. I listened to his concerns, encouraged him, and gave him pointers. We even arranged a few group practices where we each invited friends to watch so that our graded presentation wouldn’t be the first time we were speaking in front of a group of strangers. We ended up acing the project and the other student and I are now close friends, and I know he’s now working at a job where he needs to give presentations regularly.”

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to “What’s your greatest strength?” Your best bet in preparing for the “strengths” question (and questions like it) is to have your talking points prepared and a lot of good stories to turn to. Use open questions like this strategically, and then make sure your answer’s memorable by telling an awesome story. With a bit of preparation, you’ll be ready to take full advantage of this question—and get one step closer to landing the job.

Regina Borsellino contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.

Updated 10/17/2022