Talking about your accomplishments and selling your strengths can be tricky aspects of a job interview. We’re often our own harshest critics, and it can be hard to find words for the things we do well. It can be even harder to share your successes if you’re worried that you’ll come off as arrogant or sound like you're bragging.
Being humble is a great quality, but so is having confidence in your abilities! Here are some tips to help you talk about your strengths in your next job interview.
Know your strengths
You’ll be better prepared to highlight your strengths in an interview if you’ve spent some time thinking about them beforehand and have specific key phrases in mind. Check out these lists of strengths to get the brainstorming process started—you might find strengths you didn’t know you had!
Every job you apply for will have different job-related strengths associated with it. A fast food job might require you to be quick on your feet, and a camp counselor job is probably looking for candidates who are great with kids. In addition to these more specific qualities, universal strengths like punctuality, communication, organization, and teamwork are qualities every employer will be looking for because they are useful in virtually every work setting imaginable.
You can list strengths like this in any interview, regardless of the type of job you’re applying for. Take some time to think about what universal strengths you have and how you use them.
Share specific stories
If you’re worried about sounding like you’re bragging in an interview, telling stories instead of just listing strengths can be a good way to kick that feeling. If you provide specific, authentic examples of your strengths, you’ll feel less self-conscious and more like you’re just having a normal conversation. Telling a story that shows a strength also makes you much more memorable and relatable to the interviewer!
Let’s say you want to talk about your organization skills. You could keep it simple and say:
“I’m very organized, it’s one of my greatest strengths.”
There’s nothing wrong with saying that (as long as you’re actually organized), but if you want to be more memorable and authentic, try adding more detail:
“I’m very organized. I’m the secretary of my school’s debate club, so it’s up to me to keep detailed attendance sheets and mailing lists, and take minutes at every meeting. I keep track of my responsibilities in a planner because I know the rest of the club is counting on me.”
One thing you might notice is that a good story will often showcase more than one strength. In this example, the teen is mostly talking about being organized. However, they also mention that the club is counting on them, highlighting their responsibility and dedication to teamwork, too.
Think about point of view
Since we’re often our own harshest critics, sometimes adjusting our perspective slightly can make a big difference in how we think and talk about ourselves. Try thinking about how a close friend, a good teacher, or a past employer or co-worker would describe you. What would they say you’re good at? If you were your own friend or co-worker, what things would you appreciate about yourself? Approaching questions about your strengths like this can help reduce the self-consciousness you might feel.
If you find this technique helpful, you can incorporate it into the interview itself! Try starting your responses with phrases like “my friends would describe me as…” or “past employers have said I’m…”
At the end of the day, even if it might feel like bragging, being able to identify your strengths and celebrate success is a great quality. Try to remember that your interviewer wants to know how awesome you are, and they aren't going to judge you for thinking highly of yourself!