One of the hardest interview questions to answer is “What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?” We all have an idea of what we’re good at, but it can be a bit of a struggle to define our strengths. Understanding what your strengths are is beneficial not only in preparation for an interview, but for your career in the long run. All of us have distinct strengths and abilities that enable us to be our best. Below are three strategies you can use today to figure out not only what your strengths are, but also how to better utilize them.
1) Observe Yourself: Often it is said that we learn from adversity, however, we also learn from our successes. Reflect on projects where you performed well, positive feedback you’ve received, and other accomplishments. Pay attention to the steps you took to achieve those milestones. In those steps, you’ll unveil strengths of yours whether it is relationship building, influencing, execution, etc. that you used to accomplish the task.
2) Read: Pick up the book Strengths Finder 2.0. When you purchase the book, you are given a code to an online assessment created by Gallup. Based on your responses, you will receive a PDF describing in detail your top five strengths, along with recommended action items. Additional online resources are available as well. Many fortune 500 companies such as Google and PNC Bank utilize this assessment. Companies have begun to utilize Strengths Finder because Gallup has proved that there is a strong correlation between employees who utilize their strengths at work and employees who are engaged. Because many executives are familiar with Strengths Finder, this is also a good topic to bring up when networking as well.
3) Seek Feedback: Consult with those who you have worked with on projects and within organizations, professors and managers. Ask them what they feel your strengths are and what areas you have particularly exceled in. It can be a bit intimidating to ask others for feedback so here’s a creative suggestion for you. Create a Johari’s Window on Kevan.org/johari. Johari’s Window was created in 1955 to help people better understand their relationships with others, as well as how others view them. On the site mentioned, you can email a link those you want to survey and they are able to select five adjectives from a fixed list that they think best describe you. The fun part is that you get to compare it to the five adjectives you selected for yourself and see where there is common ground as well as blind spots. The website is free and you are able to save and revisit your data at any time.
Once you have figured out what your strengths are, it is important to build on them. Seek further development to gain additional skill and knowledge. Learn to efficiently utilize as well as demonstrate those strengths. Everyone has his or her own unique set of strengths that, if honed, will take you to new heights.
[Note: I am in no way affiliated with the Kevan.org site mentioned in the article. A professor I had in graduated school recommended the site for a class project where we all had to create our own Johari’s Window.]
About the Author
Kyshira Moffett is a Human Resources Professional currently working in the financial services industry. In her spare time she provides one on one assistance with resume writing, interview preparation and LinkedIn profiles for young and experienced professionals. Visit her blog for young professionals at www.2movesahead.net. She can also be found on Twitter and on LinkedIn.