How To Answer ‘What Are Your Strengths?’ In A Management Job Interview

One of the most difficult things to do is to brag about yourself. As leaders and professionals, we often get so caught up in the rush of getting things done and keeping operations afloat, that we have little time for self-reflection and to appreciate our strengths. Consequently, when attempting to climb the career ladder into a new leadership or management role, it can be very hard to pinpoint what your strengths are and sell them effectively to your prospective employer.

If you’re anxiously preparing for an upcoming job interview and are finding it difficult to answer the question, “What are your strengths?,” below are some tried and proven strategies to formulate your answer. (Bear in mind that although this article is primarily focused on interviews for leadership and management roles, these strategies can be applied to any interview.)

Focus On The Job Description

The fastest way to find out what you need to include in your answers is to look to the job advert, and specifically look out for the person specification section. This section is there to help you understand from the employer’s perspective, what they’re looking for in a stellar candidate, so take advantage of this tool.

It’s not likely that you will be a perfect fit on exactly every bullet point listed in their candidate requirements, so you shouldn’t aim for 100% perfection or lie your way into their favor. Instead, identify as many areas of common ground where you see yourself match as possible. Some might be obvious, some less conspicuous, so take your time matching your experiences to each competency, and adapt your answer to the nuances of the role itself.

Focus On The Employer

Are there specific qualities that the employer values beyond the extent of the role itself? The only way to know is to study the company’s background, values, and mission. Look at their three- or five-year strategy published on their website or documents available online. Note specific areas where you have a competitive edge based on your knowledge or experience, in which you can contribute to bringing their strategy to life as their incoming leader or manager.

Incorporating this into your answer will show the hiring manager that your strengths align with organizational goals and that you are needed to bring their vision to reality.

Focus On The Numbers

Talking about what you did is not sufficient; numbers show what you are capable of. Quantifying your strengths demonstrates to the employer that it’s more than theory or knowledge; you actually know what you’re talking about and have tangible experience of results. And of course, this is an essential prerequisite because as a leader or manager, driving results is of utmost importance.

For example, if you mention that your strength is in boosting team productivity and efficiency, use a percentage that demonstrates how much productivity was improved, and within what time period. Also, include the team’s size in your answer so the interviewer has a clearer picture.

Focus On Leadership And Management Skills

If the job brief isn’t very detailed about person specifications, think about relating your strengths to general leadership skills, such as strategic thinking, team-building and motivation, performance management, empathy, communication, and stakeholder relationship management.

You can also think about tying in your skills to anticipated challenges or risks that could impact the success of the organization, demonstrating that you possess the critical leadership ability to think and plan ahead for crisis. For instance, talk about how you lead remote and hybrid teams, as this will be a strength for you as we move into a predominantly hybrid work model into 2024.

Example Answer For “What Are Your Strengths?”

“One of my main strengths is in leading high-performance teams and streamlining processes for them. When working as [previous job title] at [name of previous employer], I managed a team of eight that delivered a new healthcare initiative program. In this role I reduced unnecessary time being spent on repetitive tasks by 30%, and enabled two exceptionally high-performers to be promoted to more senior roles within the organization. I used my coaching skills to coach the other team members according to their strengths, resulting in us achieving the program objectives by the end of the year. I’m confident that my ability to drive measurable results, motivate and empower high performance in teams, and my eye for spotting process improvements will be valuable assets in this role for your upcoming project.”

Remember, keep your answer focused on the employer, the job description, the numbers, and leadership and management competencies. Employers are looking to hire a superstar leader to motivate their teams and ensure organizational success in a dynamic market and workforce. You already have what it takes—but you need to be confident to articulate how.

Forbes

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