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What Should You Say Is Your Strongest Attribute in an Interview?

by Mark Applegate

An interview is one of those times in life that you must brag about yourself. You are likely competing against several candidates for the position, and your answers to basic interview questions can be the deciding factor in whether you get the job or leave disappointed. One common question you should expect is "What is your strongest attribute?" While you always want to be honest, answer this critical question accurately and in a relevant way to make the most impact.

Take an Inventory

Since telling the truth is important to establish your credibility and character, take an honest inventory of your strengths. Evaluate your career and consider the strengths you have that allowed you to be successful. Go line-by-line through your resume, considering successes and failures, and take careful notes. Evaluate life experiences such as service projects and personal relationships as you quantify your positive attributes. Ask for an honest evaluation of your strengths from your loved ones, friends and former co-workers, telling them to be painfully honest.

Study the Position

With your strength inventory in hand, carefully read the job posting. Make a chart outlining the specific job requirements, ordering them from what seems to be the most important to the least. Comparing lists, match your strengths to the job requirements to find the ones that best present your skills in light of the position's need. For example, if you are applying for a team manager position, promoting the strength of working alone, while perhaps true and still useful in some ways, may not match the position as well as highlighting your communication skills or your ability to reconcile angry employees. Jot down a few strengths and list a couple examples of how you used them to serve your employer.

Study the Company

Part of the preparation for any interview is researching the company, and answering this question requires much of the same research. Evaluate the company in terms of its public image. Think about any successful employee you might know from the firm. Consider the strengths you possess that most match the company's image, starting with your list of attributes tailored to the position. Ideally find the intersection of your strengths, the position's demands and the company's image. Put together on or two of the best attributes and remember examples of when you used them.

Pitfalls

Be careful to use attributes that sound confident, not arrogant. If you seem overconfident you may be viewed as either dishonest or a potential liability to the culture of the company. Reword the attribute and practice, role-playing answering the question to a peer to see how it sounds. Consider your answer to the opposite question, "What is your weakest attribute?" and be sure that the answers complement each other and do not contradict in any way.

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