Why does this job interest you?
When will this question be asked?
You will probably be invited to talk your interviewer through the main qualities you can bring to their company once you’ve given them an overview of your career history and explained to them why you want this particular job. It’s time for them to start evaluating if you can offer them something that the other candidates can’t.
Why is this question asked?
For any job role there are certain key skills that the ideal employee will have and if your main strengths match these key skills then you’re on your way towards being successful in your application. It’s a question designed for the interviewer to quickly weigh up how you think you can help their business and to see if you are aware of how your abilities match the needs of the role.
People who are aware of their strengths generally make for good employees, as they know how to use those strengths to a business advantage. People who do not know their strengths are often not as productive, requiring more help in achieving their targets.
How can you prepare for this question?
Reading the job description will give you an idea about what they are looking for so make sure your strengths match up to the qualities listed. The fact that you’ve been invited for an interview means they should be pretty close, but it’s a good idea to refresh your memory about why you are right for the job.
Knowledge based skills are things you have acquired from education and experience and could cover anything from computer skills through to fluency in a foreign language. Transferable skills are applicable to almost any job such as good communication, analytical abilities and project management. Personal traits are attributes where you can show added value to the employer, by telling them you are dependable, flexible, friendly, hard working, expressive, formal, punctual or a team player.
Depending on the job you are going for your focus should be slightly different. For technical roles you should give more prominence to your knowledge bases skills, and for customer facing roles, you will want to talk more about your personal traits. If you’re making a dramatic change of career, emphasising your transferable skills will show them you’re capable of making the switch.
If you’re still unsure about how to answer this question, it’s worth asking some colleagues of your previous managers who will be in a good position to let you know where your main qualities lie.
What does the interviewer want to hear?
It’s easy for anyone to reel off a list of qualities, but they mean very little if you can’t prove them. Make sure you’re able to back up what you say with a situation where you have used your strengths, as you don’t want the interviewer to ask you for evidence. Stick to three main strengths and offer an example for each, such as:
“I’d say my three strengths are innovation, project management and flexibility. Throughout my career I have come up with many ideas that have helped me reach business targets, such as the initiative I started in my first role to reduce unnecessary paperwork. Project planning has always been an important part of my roles and a project I have recently completed where we were able to increase output by 30% within 3 months proves I excel at seeing plans through to fruition.”
“Being flexible has opened many doors for me and I was pleased to be asked to cover for my manager during a recent period of illness. I was able to continue my day-to-day tasks as well as helping other people in the department when required.”
What follow up questions might there be?
The logical next step is to ask you about your weaknesses, but they could also ask how you think your strengths make you the right person for the role.
You may want to revisit the three choices and explain a situation where they would come in particularly useful if you were offered the job. Linking your strengths to real circumstances will help them envisage you being a successful appointment.