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How to Answer "What is your greatest strength?" | Turning small moments into great answers

What is more memorable: hearing someone rattle off a list of skills and random facts, or an interesting story that captures your attention? For an interviewer, it’s the latter. Being able to tell a story and weave an engaging narrative is the best way to deliver an impactful, memorable, and organized answer to just about any interview question – especially when asked about your strengths. I use the STARR narrative method when coaching clients.

The STARR method stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result, Reflection. Neglecting the “R” is a common mistake. The reflection piece exhibits self-awareness and the desire to learn and develop. The method as a whole allows candidates to infuse key skills and accomplishments that the interviewer is hoping to hear, into a more compelling, convincing answer.

Craft mini stories from your past experiences. I ask candidates to go through their work and personal history to identify experiences that they can use as “mini-stories”. These stories help extract key soft and/or hard skills. The most critical part of this method is to bookend your answer with a clear relevant reflection. This allows you to segue the conversation back to the interviewer for the next question. Often being able to finish answering an interviewer’s question is the biggest challenge for interviewees. This approach provides a thoughtful answer that is mindful of both the interviewer’s question and their time.

The “greatest strength” question really sets you up to shine – so be a peacock!

For example, if you feel your greatest strength is that you are resourceful, you could tell a mini story about your summer internship (Situation) where you weren’t given much work or responsibility and found it very boring (Task).

When you completed the shortlist of assigned duties, you always asked for more and for permission to offer your help to others in the company. You introduced yourself to other employees and other departments (Action).

Many took you up on your offer, so you learned a great deal more about the company’s offering and gained a broader range of skills. You were also able to develop relationships with a larger group of people and this opened up doors down the road for full-time employment (Result). You were able to learn more, meet more people and ultimately, expand your professional options (Reflection).

Outline your mini-stories and start practicing your narrative today – in front of family, friends, or record yourself and be your own best critic!


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