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How To Answer: What are Your Strengths?
Today, we are tackling another critical job interview question: What are your strengths?
This is a commonly-asked question in job interviews for all levels of positions in all industries.
Even when this question is not asked, you must be able to answer it in order to land the job. After all, from the employer’s perspective, the main point of a job interview is to understand what you could do for the organization and why she should hire you instead of someone else.
You must be prepared to talk about your strengths. Many candidates don’t do it well, so there is an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd if you can speak about your strengths in an authentic and compelling way.
Let’s start by talking about how to respond when an interviewer asks you specifically, “What are your strengths?” (or “What are your three greatest strengths?” or similar)
Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?
It’s the interviewer’s job to find someone who will perform in the position and get along with the team. With this question, the interviewer seeks to find out if:
• Your strengths align with the company’s needs• You can do the job and perform a rock star• You are the best person for the job — no need to hold out for someone better• You have qualities, skills, and/or experience that set you apart from the competition
• You are someone who will make an excellent addition to the team
Some people think this is an easy question. This question is basically a prompt for you to brag and “sell” yourself as the best fit for the job. So how could you screw it up? You know yourself, right?
Unfortunately, many candidates fail to prepare properly and sabotage themselves. Here are some of the common mistakes that I see when working with my coaching clients:
Lack of self-awareness. Most job seekers don’t spend enough time analyzing their strengths and thinking about which ones are most relevant for each position.
Knowing your strengths will serve you well in job interviewing and in the rest of your life as well.
If you don’t feel you have a clear sense of your job-related strengths, read on for some advice on how to identify them.
Modesty. Many candidates are too humble or just aren’t comfortable articulating what makes them great.This is particularly true for introverts and/or people who never really had to “sell” themselves before because new jobs always fell in their laps in the past.
You have to get over any hesitation to say nice things about yourself. You can do it in a way that feels comfortable and authentic if you prepare in advance.
Choosing lame strengths. Others choose strengths that don’t help them stand out — strengths that aren’t important for the job at hand or strengths that just about anybody could claim.
This mistake makes a candidate bland and forgettable at best.
At worst, you can raise red flags with the interviewer — who wants to hire someone whose greatest strength is the ability to show up on time?
How to Talk About Your Strengths
It’s important to take the time to identify your strengths and PRACTICE talking about them in advance. That way, you’ll be ready when you walk into that interview for your dream job. Let’s start by identifying/confirming what your greatest strengths are:
1. Brainstorm. Sit down and make a list of your top strengths — aim for at least 10 and be creative. Banish your modest internal editor to another room. Jot down everything that comes to mind. You can delete later if you .
Your strengths could include:
Experience — Experience with a certain software or type of task, expertise in a particular industry, a track record of working with similar products or clients, etc.
Talents — Abilities such as programming in a desired language, writing proposals, selling widgets, litigating cases, organizing events, translating from Mandarin, etc. (the possibilities here are truly endless)
Soft skills — Competencies such as problem solving, influencing, team building, negotiation, managing up, etc.
Education/training — Relevant background on topics critical to the job — including college degrees, certifications, training seminars, mentoring, internships, etc.
If you have trouble coming up with enough work-related strengths, jot down positive personality qualities or personal strengths. You may find ways to relate these to job performance.
2. Focus. Narrow your list down to least five strengths that you are comfortable discussing (or could get comfortable discussing with a little bit of practice). The more, the better. You may not talk about all of these strengths in every interview, but it’s good to have options.
3. Prepare Examples. Develop at least one example or Interview Story to illustrate each of your strengths. If you’re not sure how to go about crafting compelling stories and examples from your previous experience, check out Big Interview and our Answer Builder.
Inside Big Interview, our complete training system for job interviews, we give you video lessons, sample answers, and an interactive practice tool for all of these different versions of “What is your greatest strength?” Watch this brief video to learn a little more about Big Interview, and click here to look inside the proven, step-by-step system we’ve developed for interview prep.
Choosing the Right Strengths
1. Be accurate. Choose strengths that you actually possess. Don’t pick a strength just because it’s in the job description or worked for your buddy. You want to be yourself in an interview, just the best and most professional version of yourself. You will be much more convincing and likable if you talk about authentic strengths.
2. Be relevant. You should take the time to analyze the job description and identify the most important strengths for each opportunity. You ly have many strengths, but which will be most relevant for this interviewer?
3. Be specific. Choose specific strengths. Instead of “people skills” (too broad and boring), go with “relationship building” or “persuasive communication.” Don’t be generic. Could 90% of your friends claim your strength? Pick another one.
4. Don’t be too humble. See common mistakes above. Avoid “weak praise” and lame strengths. Pick something impressive. Don’t go with “pleasant to work with” as your main selling point. Just about everybody can and should be pleasant to work with. To get the job, you have to show you would bring more to the position.
5. Be prepared to demonstrate. As discussed, have a concise example ready to back each strength up. Be careful about rambling on too long here. Your answer should still be 1-2 minutes long. If you want to share three strengths and back each up with an example, you will want to practice in advance so that you can do it in a concise way.
I Don’t Know My Own Strengths
If you get stuck trying to develop a list your strengths, try these techniques:
1. Get a second opinion. Ask a trusted friend or colleague what they think are your greatest strengths.
2. Dig for clues. Go back to previous performance reviews and analyze the positive feedback. Dig up old emails praising your work (if you haven’t been saving these, start a folder now). If you’re a student or new grad, think about the feedback that you’ve received from professors and supervisors from past internships and jobs.
3. Review your resume. Look for common themes in your achievements. Sometimes, we’re so close to the subject that we lose perspective. Try to read your resume with fresh eyes — as if it was the resume of an admired friend. What stands out?
4. Get scientific. Try the StrengthsFinder assessment. You can answer a series of questions and get a report that summarizes your top strengths. This should spark some ideas and/or help you focus your thinking.
I use StrengthsFinder with many of my coaching clients and the results can really help with your professional and personal development.
Many corporations also ask their employees to take the StrengthsFinder assessment as a foundation for their performance improvement plans.
Some Example Answers to “What Are Your Strengths?”
1. Example Answer: 3 Strengths for a Technology Team Leader
“I think one of my greatest strengths is as a problem solver. I have the ability to see a situation from different perspectives and I can get my work done even in the face of difficult obstacles.
I also feel that my communication skills are top notch. I feel just as comfortable presenting to senior executives as I do mediating a conflict between junior team members.
I worked as a programmer in the past so I have that perspective of a developer and I think that they respect me for that.”
Why We It:
This is a nice answer that summarizes three strengths that are relevant for the job at hand. Just saying that you’re a “problem solver” and have “good communication skills” can sound bland and rehearsed. You have to add some detail and color to make your answer more believable and memorable.
In this case, the candidate talks about how her problem solving skills work (seeing things from different perspectives) and gives examples of her communication skills (presenting to senior leaders and mediating team disputes).
We also her discussion of her programming past and how this makes her a better manager.
Notice that she did not include a specific example for each of the strengths cited. Sometimes you want to avoid squeezing too much detail into one answer. You don’t want this answer to turn into an endless monologue.
This candidate gave a little bit of detail for each strength and then left an opening for the interviewer to ask for more information. She should, of course, be prepared with an Interview Story for each of her strengths.That way, she will be ready when the interviewer asks: “Tell me about a time when you solved a difficult problem” or “Give me an example of a conflict that you mediated.”
2. Example Answer: Work Ethic
“One of my strengths is my strong work ethic. When I commit to a deadline, I do whatever it takes to deliver. For example, last week we had a report due and got some numbers back late from our team in Singapore. I pulled an all-nighter to finish the spreadsheet because I knew that the client HAD to receive the report on time.”
Why We It:
Notice that the answer goes beyond “hard worker,” which is way too general. Anybody can say that they work hard. This candidate gets specific about what work ethic means to him and talks about being deadline-driven and reliable, with a specific example.
3. Example Answer: Writing Skills (New college grad applying for analyst position)
“I am proud of my writing skills and believe that they will make me a better analyst. I am able to communicate complicated topics to different audiences. I can take a lot of data and information and find the story and themes that clients need to know about.
I honed my research and writing abilities during my days writing for the college paper, where I learned how to write well on deadline from pretty demanding editors. I even won an award for my series on the financial crisis.”
Why We It:
This answer explains why the candidate is a good writer and how that applies to the position. The example adds credibility, showing that others also believed the candidate’s writing skills were top-notch (editors, award judges).
What If They Don’t Ask Me About My Strengths?
If the interviewer doesn’t think to ask you about your strengths (not every interviewer has been trained to ask the right questions), you’ll have to look for opportunities to bring up the topic.
Keep in mind that there are many other questions that basically ask for your strengths. These include:
• Why should we hire you?• Why are you the best person for the job?
• What makes you a good fit?
You should walk into every interview with a clear goal: to communicate your greatest and most relevant strengths to the interviewer. If you aren’t asked directly, look for openings. For example, when asked a behavioral question (“Tell me about a time…”), share an example that illustrates one of your top strengths and emphasize it.
If all else fails, wait until the end of the interview when they ask you if you have anything else to add (after you have asked some smart questions of the interviewer). Then, take the opportunity to summarize your strengths and reiterate your interest in the position.
List of Strengths and Weaknesses
This list of strengths and weaknesses helps you to recognize those that apply to you. Know how to present these employee strengths and weaknesses in the best way when answering interview questions.
Identify your top transferable competencies from your previous work and life experience and provide the right answer to the frequently asked interview question «What are your strengths?»
What are the skills and behaviors that you need to work on and improve?
Everyone has a fair number of these! Employers want to know how you manage the weakness and recognizing the weakness is the first essential step to managing it properly.
This complete list of strengths and weaknesses and how they present in the workplace will help you do this.
List of Strengths and Weaknesses — 17 Good Examples of Strengths
|Communication||Written communication skill evident in reports, correspondence. Verbal communication skills evident in presentations, managing conflict, selling, dealing with customers, active listening, meeting participation and negotiation.|
|Strong work ethic/diligent||Hard working, works extra hours, completes projects before time, takes on more than others, does more than required, maintains a high quality of work, imposes own standards of excellence, works without supervision, follows up on own.|
|Organizational and planning skills||Evident in time management, prioritizing, using resources effectively, meeting deadlines, multi-tasking, dealing with competing demands, achieving objectives and goals, setting targets, maintaining schedules and calendars, optimal use of available resources, coordination of resources to complete projects.|
|Flexible and adaptable||Able to change activities and priorities to meet new demands, willing to learn new skills and knowledge, make a positive effort to accept changes, able to work and communicate effectively with diverse people, willing to work in different environments, willing to attempt new tasks.|
|Decision-making/judgment||Gather the necessary information to make a sound decision, come up with viable alternatives, consider pros and cons for each, fully commit to the best action, follow through on decision.|
|Problem solving||Able to identify and define problems, analyze problems to find causes, find possible solutions, consider the possible outcomes of each solution, decide on the best solution and implement it.|
|Gathering, analyzing and managing information||Collect required information efficiently from different sources, integrate information and put it together in a logical format, process information, identify trends and patterns, distribute and communicate information correctly, store and maintain information efficiently.|
|Coaching/mentoring||Willing and able to coach others, enable and facilitate learning, impart knowledge, help people to identify and achieve what they are capable of, assess training and learning needs, develop appropriate learning interventions, adapt teaching/coaching style to meet employee's needs.|
|Team work||Work effectively in a team, contribute to team objectives, communicate effectively with team members, respect, listen to and encourage team members, pitch in, put success of team ahead of individual success.|
|Reliable/dependable||Consistent work performance, complete projects accurately and within deadlines, arriving on time, fulfilling obligations, following through on commitments, checks own work, corrects own work, complies with workplace policies and procedures, takes responsibility for own actions.|
|Self reliant/ self management||Uses own resources, skills and abilities fully, accountable for own activity, progress and success, manages self towards goals, completes projects and activities independently, obtains own help and assistance, internally motivated and does not seek external rewards for good performance.|
|Self discipline||Controls own behavior, self-motivated, prepared to work hard to achieve goals, sets own targets, avoids distractions, perseveres with difficult tasks and activities, does not procrastinate, continues with projects in the face of obstacles and challenges.|
|Persistent/resilient||Handle disappointment, deal effectively with rejection, stay enthusiastic after a set back, maintain work performance despite difficulties, accept criticism, bounce back quickly, overcome obstacles to achieve, keep trying until task is completed.|
|Persuasive||Evident in selling, customer management, negotiating, dealing with objections, getting agreement/commitment from co-workers/management, presenting ideas, motivating people, gaining the confidence of others.|
|Integrity||Maintain confidentiality, provide complete and accurate information, observe company policies and procedures, comply with regulations, maintain values and ethics in the face of opposition and pressure.|
|Energetic||Works long hours, maintains fast work pace, tackles challenging tasks, stays positive, takes on extra tasks, maintains high productivity levels, tenacious in achieving goals.|
|Initiative||Proactive attempts to sort out problems and issues, provide ideas for improvement, make full use of opportunities, identify needs and come up with solutions, take steps to make your job and the company better.|
How do you answer «What is your greatest strength?»
- Identify the strengths that will contribute to successful job performance
- Using the list of strengths and weaknesses describe your strength
- Support your answer with examples of how this strength is evident in your work performance
Understand your own strengths using the strengths finder at What are your Strengths?
What are your weaknesses examples
Complete List of Weaknesses
How to successfully answer the weakness interview question — excellent examples at Interview Questions Weaknesses
Top sample interview answers to «What are your strengths and weaknesses?»
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By Julia Penny,© Copyright 2019 Best-Job-Interview.com
Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout
You put a lot of effort into your workouts, always looking to perform better and reach your goals.
Chances are you've given more thought to your pre-workout meal than your post-workout meal.
But consuming the right nutrients after you exercise is just as important as what you eat before.
Here is a detailed guide to optimal nutrition after workouts.
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To understand how the right foods can help you after exercise, it's important to understand how your body is affected by physical activity.
When you're working out, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Some of the proteins in your muscles also get broken down and damaged (1, 2).
After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins.
Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.
Doing this helps your body:
- Decrease muscle protein breakdown.
- Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth).
- Restore glycogen stores.
- Enhance recovery.
Bottom Line: Getting in the right nutrients after exercise can help you rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores. It also helps stimulate growth of new muscle.
This section discusses how each macronutrient — protein, carbs and fat — is involved in your body's post-workout recovery process.
Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle
As explained above, exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein (1, 2).
The rate at which this happens depends on the exercise and your level of training, but even well-trained athletes experience muscle protein breakdown (3, 4, 5).
Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue (1, 6, 7, 8).It's recommended that you consume 0.14–0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.3–0.5 grams/kg) very soon after a workout (1).
Studies have shown that ingesting 20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body's ability to recover after exercise (6, 8, 9).
Carbs Help With Recovery
Your body's glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.
The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training.
For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (running, swimming, etc.), you might need to consume more carbs than a bodybuilder.
Consuming 0.5–0.7 grams of carbs per pound (1.1–1.5 grams/kg) of body weight within 30 minutes after training results in proper glycogen resynthesis (1).
Furthermore, insulin secretion, which promotes glycogen synthesis, is better stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed at the same time (10, 11, 12, 13).
Therefore, consuming both carbs and protein after exercise can maximize protein and glycogen synthesis (13, 14).Try consuming the two in a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein). For example, 40 grams of protein and 120 grams of carbs (15, 16).
Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important.
Fat Is Not That Bad
Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients.
While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits.
For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk (17).
Moreover, another study showed that even when ingesting a high-fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out, muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected (18).
It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.
Bottom Line: A post-workout meal with both protein and carbs will enhance glycogen storage and muscle protein synthesis. Consuming a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein) is a practical way to achieve this.
Your body's ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced after you exercise (9).
For this reason, it's recommended that you consume a combination of carbs and protein as soon as possible after exercising.Although the timing does not need to be exact, many experts recommend eating your post-workout meal within 45 minutes.
In fact, it's believed that the delay of carb consumption by as little as two hours after a workout may lead to as much as 50% lower rates of glycogen synthesis (9, 10).
However, if you consumed a meal before exercising, it's ly that the benefits from that meal still apply after training (9, 19, 20).
Bottom Line: Eat your post-workout meal within 45 minutes of exercising. However, you can extend this period a little longer, depending on the timing of your pre-workout meal.
The primary goal of your post-workout meal is to supply your body with the right nutrients for adequate recovery and to maximize the benefits of your workout.
Choosing easily digested foods will promote faster nutrient absorption.
The following lists contain examples of simple and easily digested foods:
- Sweet potatoes
- Chocolate milk
- Fruits (pineapple, berries, banana, kiwi)
- Rice cakes
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
- Animal- or plant-based protein powder
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Protein bar
- Nut butters
- Trail mix (dried fruits and nuts)
Combinations of the foods listed above can create great meals that provide you with all the nutrients you need after exercise.
Here are a few examples of quick and easy meals to eat after your workout:
- Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables.
- Egg omelet with avocado spread on toast.
- Salmon with sweet potato.
- Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread.
- Tuna and crackers.
- Oatmeal, whey protein, banana and almonds.
- Cottage cheese and fruits.
- Pita and hummus.
- Rice crackers and peanut butter.
- Whole grain toast and almond butter.
- Cereal and skim milk.
- Greek yogurt, berries and granola.
- Protein shake and banana.
- Quinoa bowl with berries and pecans.
- Multi-grain bread and raw peanuts.
It is important to drink plenty of water before and after your workout.
When you are properly hydrated, this ensures the optimal internal environment for your body to maximize results.
During exercise, you lose water and electrolytes through sweat. Replenishing these after a workout can help with recovery and performance (21).
It's especially important to replenish fluids if your next exercise session is within 12 hours.
Depending on the intensity of your workout, water or an electrolyte drink are recommended to replenish fluid losses.
Bottom Line: It is important to get water and electrolytes after exercise to replace what was lost during your workout.
Consuming a proper amount of carbs and protein after exercise is essential.
It will stimulate muscle protein synthesis, improve recovery and enhance performance during your next workout.
If you're not able to eat within 45 minutes of working out, it's important to not go much longer than 2 hours before eating a meal.
Finally, replenishing lost water and electrolytes can complete the picture and help you maximize the benefits of your workout.