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Better Than the Rest — Tips for a Strong Interview

Bonny Calfy | October 19, 2020

Your resume is polished, your wardrobe is on point and you’re ready for a potential new employer to put a face to your name. You tell them a bit about yourself and talk about your job history, and then they ask you to describe your strengths.

Some candidates will choke, but you’ve prepared for this situation. What’s your secret? How do you nail this tried-and-true interview query?

It’s important to understand why a potential employer is asking this question. It’s a favorite because it allows an employer to size you up in numerous ways. They can come to understand your ability for self-introspection and your interpersonal style, and it’s also a way to get a feel for how you’ll fit in with the rest of their organization.

Crushing your chances

Before we get into how you should respond, let’s make a quick note of what you shouldn’t do:

Don’t restate the qualities from the job description and try to pass them off as your strengths. They wrote the job description, and they’ll see right through you.

Don’t over- or under-sell yourself. Statements about how you’ll work harder, longer or with a greater attention to detail than anyone else won’t fly. Neither will boasting about your humility or selflessness. Your efforts will be transparent, and the interviewer will feel they lack a good sense of how you’ll fit in the organization. Do this, and your resume quickly lands on the NO pile.

Crushing the interview

So what should you do?

You’ve been handed an open-ended opportunity to present whatever you’d like, so use it to your advantage!

Tell a success story. You’ve got the floor, so take this chance to describe a situation in which you used your skills (both hard and soft) in a successful work setting. Your interviewer wants to know how you’d operate in their organization, and this a prime chance to show them what your A-game looks like.

Focus on the position You’ve got this chance to sell yourself, so when you’re thinking about the strengths you’d like to portray, your best bet is to focus on strengths that will be beneficial to the organization and this position in particular. Being a generally fantastic human being is nice, but tie your answer to the position in front of you.

Set yourself apart. You’re competing for this position, so try to differentiate yourself from the other applicants. Let’s say you’re the interviewer and you’re interviewing candidates for a spot in the accounting department. These candidates are obviously good with numbers, so what would make an applicant stand out for you? Maybe it’s showing leadership qualities or a drive toward improvement or innovation. Show them you can do the job, but in an above-average way.

Finally, be brief. While you have an opportunity to say whatever you like, don’t abuse the privilege. Take enough time to make your point, but use that time wisely.

Would you like to see how your strengths can be put toward amazing things? Apply for a position with Paycom today!

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s employer brand supervisor, Bonny Calfy oversees all recruitment marketing and employer brand efforts nationwide. Her brand awareness efforts extend over 10 years and have included launching the Paycom Careers blog and social media channels and producing recruitment videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside work, Bonny enjoys reading; fishing; and spending time with her husband, children and friends.