How to Answer “What Is Your Greatest Strength?” in a Job Interview (With Examples)

Almost every job interview includes this big question. Here's how to make sure you nail it.

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by Evan Thompson

Updated May 25, 2022

Edited by Jennifer Cuellar
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How to Answer “What Is Your Greatest Strength?” in a Job Interview (With Examples)
Image Credit: Ariel Skelley / Digital Vision / Getty Images


"What is your greatest strength?" is one of the most-asked questions during a job interview. Yet, sometimes it can feel like being put on the spot.

But hiring managers and recruiters aren't trying to catch you off guard. They're usually testing the waters to find out three important things:

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  1. What you consider your greatest quality
  2. How you've applied this strength in the past
  3. If your strength is relevant to the job's responsibilities

We asked more than 180 career experts for their advice on answering, "What is your greatest strength?" Their biggest suggestion: Make sure your greatest strength ties into what the employer is seeking.

Choosing Your Greatest Strength

Choosing your greatest strength can feel a little overwhelming at first. Adina David, a web marketing manager and recruiter at Paperjobz, recommends this list-building activity to find the right answer:

  1. Look at the job requirements and make a list of skills that fit the criteria. The list can include education, training, soft skills, hard skills, or past work experiences.
  2. Narrow the list down to three skills you feel particularly strong about. Under each skill, write down a few examples of your best work in those areas.
  3. Finally, choose one of these skills you could tell a story about.

Explaining Your Greatest Strength

Now that you have your greatest strength in mind, it's time to put it into action. Daisy Swan, a career and executive coach, suggests using the power of storytelling to get your point across.

To tell a good story, you need a problem and a solution. Swan recommends thinking about when you were really engaged in your work and how your greatest strength was tested.

An example of someone whose greatest strength is analytical thinking might sound something like this:

Example

"I love to look at complex problems that need to be solved, and I use my strength of analytical thinking to see what possible answers arise. For example, I could see we needed a new way to share data throughout our teams. I decided to create an internal Wikipedia-style database with links to a variety of how-to and status documents, which saves our division countless hours of time and money."

Relating Your Greatest Strength

Finally, you need to relate your strength to the job itself. Paul French, a recruiter and managing director at Intrinsic Executive Search, says the goal is to show you have exactly what the employer needs.

Say the role you're applying for is focused on building relationships with customers. You could talk about how being a great listener has paid off for you in the past.

French says the key is to explain how your greatest strength solved a problem you expect to face if you're hired.

For example, here is what someone in this position might say:

Example

"I'm a great listener, and this has always helped me build strong relationships with clients and overcome issues in the past. I remember one of my clients who was unhappy about a marketing campaign. It bounced from one of my team members to another without being resolved. When it finally reached my desk, I made an effort to listen to his complaints and take note of what was going wrong. I repeated what he told me when we were wrapping up. The client later told me that he finally felt heard, and in the end, we ironed out the marketing campaign to match what he wanted. He even decided to keep his portfolio with us, even though he was planning on withdrawing out of frustration."

Conclusion

Being ready to talk about your greatest strength is crucial during a job interview. The most important point is how your strength ties into what the employer is seeking.

Use storytelling and descriptive examples to explain your strengths. Think about which problems you've solved using your strength in the past to make it easier to talk about them in-depth during the interview.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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