Use Your Strengths to Your Advantage

“Accentuate the positive.”

It’s more than just a classic song – it should be the mantra for your interviewing strategy!

If you’re trying to gain experience right out of college, or in the midst of a career transition, you may very well find yourself in a “stretch” interview – an interview in which you meet all of the qualifications except for one.

To land a job like this, you really sell your candidacy and alleviate a recruiter’s concern about a lack of experience or missing qualification. So put your best foot forward. Here are some interview tips from PrideStaff on how to identify your strengths, highlight them in the interview and continue developing them throughout your career.

Identify Your Strengths

This may sound obvious, but knowing your strengths is essential homework to do before each interview. The requirements of each job are unique. Spend time reviewing the job description and required skills, competencies and experience to determine where you excel – and where you may fall short. Once you understand your strengths in the workplace relative to the available job, you can do the best job accentuating them.

If you’re not sure how to find your strengths, consider these sources:

  • Ask a friend, colleague or former manager
  • Review previous performance evaluations
  • Consider prior job or volunteer experience
  • Note hard skills such as languages, or technical abilities
  • List soft skills like attitude or personal traits that make you unique
  • Include education such as degrees, certifications or training

Brainstorm As Many Strengths As Possible

Don’t edit yourself at this point. Write them all down without prejudgment. You can decide which strengths or skills are relevant later. If you’re still not sure of your most important career skills, asking yourself the following questions may help get you on the right track.

Do you enjoy taking a leadership role?

That doesn’t just mean “being the boss.” It means helping people to be their best – recognizing and developing their strengths.

Are you highly competitive?

This tendency can be an amazing asset in jobs like sales, where being driven to compete can help you to become a high performer.

What are you known for?

What do your coworkers consider you to be an expert in? Why do your managers know they can count on you?

What gives you energy?

Everyone has some tasks they are excited to do, and some they slog through because they have to.

What can you get lost in?

If there are subjects or projects you can spend hours on without getting bored, consider what strengths they require.

What do you spend your downtime doing?

Do your off-the-clock activities require skills that could be valuable on the job? Think of ways you can apply and further develop them.

Still Not Sure What Sets You Apart? Take a Test.

If you’re not sure what your strengths are or are unsure how to communicate them, there are tests you can take to identify skills you didn’t know you had or you take for granted. One of the most well-known tests is the Clifton Strengths Assessment. It’s based on a Gallup Study of more than two million people. It’s well respected and discussed in detail in the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths. If you prefer a free version, check out the HIGH5 personality test to learn your top five strengths. Tests like these can help you learn about your strengths or confirm what you already knew about yourself.

Choose Relevant Strengths To Highlight

Everyone has a variety of strengths, but employers want to know about the ones that will show you are suitable for the job and will be an advantage to the company. They don’t care how straight your lawn lines are or how strong your karaoke game is. Analyze the job description to determine the most important strengths for the opportunity. Which of those strengths do you possess? Don’t fake it. Just because you can identify a trait important to the role, doesn’t mean you should claim it for your own. Look at the job description/post to find the strengths that are likely to apply to the job you’re interviewing for.

Common Strengths Employers Like To See Include:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Organizational abilities
  • Strong work ethic
  • Team-oriented
  • Self-motivated

Here’s How To Demonstrate Your Strengths During An Interview:

Translate Your Strengths Into Accomplishments

To validate your claims, rehearse specific examples of situations where you demonstrated your strengths on the job. Develop a series of short, versatile problem/solution scenarios that provide evidence of your skills or experience. Measurable results are best, but solid anecdotes work well, too.

Communicate Your Skills Effectively

In any interview, you will be asked about your strengths – either directly or indirectly. Here is how to respond. Talk about your strengths by stating the relevant strength and sharing an example – a story that demonstrates your previous experience. Stories are the best way to share your skills in a way that captures attention and shows your strengths in action. Plan several, so you have some to choose from, depending on what seems right in the interview. Practice your delivery so you can speak professionally, concisely and with confidence.

Develop Your Strengths Throughout Your Career

If you wish to get ahead in your career, building on the strengths that are important to your field or that will help you reach your goals is essential. Start by creating a plan. Learning always has value but targeting your efforts will help you excel in your job and help qualify you for your next promotion. Be sure you focus also on what interests you, or you may waste your time going down the wrong path. If you’re not sure what your long-term goal is, that’s okay. Concentrate on building skills relevant to your current role while exploring your options.

Take Charge Of Your Career Path

While plenty of employers will offer professional development opportunities, ultimately, no one will ever care about your career success as much as you do. Take advantage of any opportunities presented because they are likely to relate to skills your employer values, but in the long run, you must take ownership of your career progression.

Focus On The Strengths That Set You Apart

It’s easy to worry about where you feel you may be falling short, but it’s more valuable to spend time building your skills rather than overcoming your deficits. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve yourself, particularly as it relates to skills vital to your career success, just that you should play to your strengths – the unique qualities that make you, you.

Know Your Weaknesses

Just as you should know your workplace strengths, you should know your weaknesses, too. That doesn’t mean you have to tell the hiring manager that you’re awful at a specific skill set or have no experience in a particular area – that wouldn’t be wise. Frame it differently. Make it clear that you’re not as skilled as you’d like to be in this area and that you’re looking forward to learning more and becoming the best version of yourself in that space.

How To Build On Your Strengths

Developing your strengths to succeed in your career can sometimes require a large commitment of time such as earning a specialized degree, but there are other approaches to consider as well.

Ideas For Building On Your Strengths Include:

  • Earning certifications
  • Attending seminars or conferences
  • Taking classes or training
  • Reading relevant books
  • Watching online classes or TED Talks
  • Building your network
  • Partnering with a mentor

Consider The Strengths Of Your Role Models

Do you have personal or professional role models that you look up to? Think about the qualities you admire in those people, and ask yourself a question: Do you emulate any of those same characteristics? If you admire those qualities in someone else, there’s a good chance the hiring manager will admire them in you, too. So don’t be afraid to upsell yourself on the skills and traits you admire most about yourself.

Use Every Career Advantage Available

In addition to gauging your hard skills and experience, an employer will also assess other factors like appearance, professionalism, confidence, interest in the job, and nonverbal behaviors like eye contact and posture. If you’re thoroughly prepared for the interview, you can use all of these to your advantage – playing up the strength of your “soft skills.” It’s one of those job seeker tips that too often gets overlooked when it can make a huge difference.

On The Job Hunt? Contact Our Recruiters Today!

Work with a national employment agency like PrideStaff. We can make finding your ideal job quicker, simpler, and less stressful. PrideStaff will help ensure that you just don’t search but succeed. We provide a wide range of temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire administrative jobs, professional jobs, IT jobs, and light industrial jobs.

Contact the PrideStaff office in your area to find out more about great local job opportunities.