How to Identify Your Personal Strengths and Share Them in An Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 May 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A job application aims to prove that you are the best candidate for the job. Emphasising your personal strengths can help demonstrate this. Personal strengths can suggest how candidates will work with a team, their attitude towards their work and their ability to do well in the role. In this article, we discuss what personal strengths are, some ways to identify yours and how to integrate them into your application.

What are personal strengths?

Personal strengths are the skills and actions that you do well at as a person. Our personal strengths are always in comparison to others. These can include personality traits such as honesty and kindness. Professional traits such as a strong work ethic and being a fast learner can also be personal strengths.

Related: Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples

How to identify and explain your personal strengths

Following the steps listed below can help you understand where your personal strengths lie:

1. Identify your top five strengths

Part of job interview preparation can require self-reflection. This can come easily for some people who are reflective in nature. Others may need to do some deep-diving into their experiences and past feedback. If you need a little help to reflect on your strengths, we've included some suggestions below to help you identify them.

Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?"

2. Consider the feedback other people have given you

Other people can notice things you do well in your personal or professional life that you may not. This can help you to see your strengths that you may not have considered before. Think about any promotions, achievements or recognition you've earned. These can be obvious indicators of where you've done well. You could even ask a friend or family member what they think your personal strengths are. This can give you a broader perspective and highlight additional strengths.

3. Reflect on things you enjoy doing

Activities, experiences and hobbies that you enjoy doing and come naturally to you can be a good indicator of your personal strengths. Try to think about the reasons that make these experiences enjoyable as they could point you towards a skill you use. For example, if you love painting, attention to detail and dedication could be some of your strengths.

You could also consider the things that you are comfortable doing or that come easy to you that other people might find challenging. For example, if you often hear people say that they hate public speaking, but you are comfortable with it, this could be a personal strength.

4. Take an online test

There are several competency and aptitude tests online that identify your skills in certain areas. Universities and colleges often use these tests to assess students' suitability for specific courses and career paths.

5. Link your personal strengths to the job requirements

Review the job description and identify the key strengths required for the role. It may take some deciphering to establish these. For example, if the role states that the candidate will be in charge of a team, it could mean that leadership skills are important. Or if the company works in a fast-paced and busy environment, you can take this to mean that time management and a strong work ethic will be helpful.

Once you have done this, return to your top five strengths to choose which ones fit best.

6. Quality and specifics over quantity

It's a good idea to focus on a few key strengths and explain these well. That can make a more significant impact than listing off many strengths without succinct examples to back them up. Select around three to five of your strengths to focus on in an interview.

7. Provide examples, anecdotes and stories

Statements you make in a job application or job interview can be more powerful with an example to support them. Try to remember a clear example from the past that shows you using your relevant strength.

When explaining a personal strength with an example, try to start by identifying the strength. Then present a relevant story and end with the positive result, if possible.

Example: I think my leadership skills are one of my greatest strengths. When I have a team to manage, I like to make everyone feel welcome and a part of the team. In my latest role as a team manager, my team was making the most sales after three weeks of me becoming a manager.

Examples of personal strengths

Below, we provide a list of some examples of personal strengths. This list is not extensive, but it may help you in discovering some of your unique strengths:

Communication and interpersonal skills

Every job includes some level of communication with others. Communication skills can be highly valued by employers as these skills can make for an efficient team and workplace. They can also be beneficial to establishing a healthy team culture.

Some examples that could suggest you have strong communication and interpersonal skills are:

  • You had a job where you interacted with multiple teams and departments.

  • You were a team captain in a sports or academic club.

  • You perform well at public speaking.

  • You enjoy interacting with people.

  • You enjoy writing.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Planning and organisation skills

Many roles can have large workloads and demand the ability to prioritise work to ensure that all tasks get done. This takes planning and organisation skills to manage properly.

Some examples that could suggest you have strong planning and organisation skills are:

  • You worked in a busy role that required organisation skills to manage the workload.

  • You've had multiple commitments at some stage in your life where you balanced them with careful planning. For example, studying full-time while working casually and playing sports.

  • You enjoy planning events and social occasions.

Attention to detail

Many professional jobs require staff to have strong attention to detail, as tiny errors can translate into significant problems. When it comes to analytical or financial roles, this can be especially true. It's also relevant for other professional roles. Businesses can aim to present a high level of professionalism, and attention to detail can help maintain this. Look for the word 'meticulous' in the job description to imply that attention to detail is essential.

Some examples that could suggest you have strong planning and organisation skills are:

  • You have a small number of mistakes or errors in your previous work or assignments.

  • It doesn't take you long to edit your work.

  • You find yourself picking up on details or errors that others have missed.

Problem-solving and critical thinking

Problem-solving and critical thinking skills can be necessary for some roles. Technical, organisational and management positions usually need candidates who think fast and solve unforeseen problems. In these roles, hiring managers can look for examples of when you have shown these skills.

Some examples that could suggest you have strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills are:

  • You worked in a role that required you to solve problems in the past.

  • You enjoy puzzles.

  • You enjoyed Maths as a school subject.

  • You enjoy fixing things around the house.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Adaptability

Adaptability skills are important in dynamic workplaces. These skills can suggest that you can be trained quickly when you start a new job and meet the demands of a changing environment.

Some examples that could suggest you have strong adaptability skills and are a fast learner are:

  • You have handled changes that a previous workplace has implemented quickly.

  • You welcome changes in your personal life.

  • You have many hobbies and interests as you learn the basis of them fast.

Leadership

Leadership skills are necessary for some senior-level roles. These roles are usually in charge of a team while interacting with other team leaders. It's important for people in charge of managing others to have strong leadership skills because it can help each person in the team work better as well as the team as a whole.

Some examples that could suggest you have strong leadership skills are:

  • You have managed people or a team in a previous role.

  • You have been a team captain in a sports or academic club.

  • You were a leader of a university organisation.

Why do interviewers ask about your personal strengths?

Explaining your personal strengths is about convincing the employer that you're the right person for the job. Employers like to ask about your personal strengths because it helps to assess if you're uniquely qualified to succeed in the role. Your strengths can help them understand you and the contribution you can make to their team.

Knowing your strengths and explaining them well can make you sound confident and self-aware. It can also suggest that you know how to use your strengths to create a better work environment and a higher quality of work. Employers can also be looking to assess your communication skills and your ability to think on the spot. Thus, it's an excellent idea to prepare yourself so you can reference these strengths if you're asked this in an interview.

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