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Job Interview Coaching: The Strengths Question

July 25, 2016 by John Andrew Williams

They are in the job interview, and the dreaded question comes up:

“What are your strengths?

This is one of the most common interview questions in the playbook, and there are many programs out there that help job seekers prepare their answers. Let’s look at some of the approaches to answering this question, and then we will look at how coaching can bring out the best possible narrative for the professional job seeker.

(Not So Strong) Job Interview Mistakes

1. “I’m a hard worker!”

One of the most obvious problems with answering the job interview question: “What are your strengths?” is to be overly simplistic and general. Honestly, if the answer to a question like this is something anyone in their right mind could say, then it is not going to make a positive impression on the interviewer. Common answers:

  • I like working with people.
  • I can be a bit of a perfectionist!
  • I like computers.
  • I have done work in an office before.
  • I handle pressure well.

2. “I’m an expert…(at talking like a computer)”Another problem that pops up when people are in a job interview is that they sometimes forget that they are in a one on one conversation with a fellow human being. A quick spot-check can diagnose this one: Does your answer to the question sound like an exact duplicate of your resume “Qualifications” section? Therefore, never mistake word-processor clarity with conversational success.3. “I have certifications!

As much as getting a degree, getting a certification, completing tutorials with Udemy and Lynda are helpful in the job search process, they are only a small part of the picture. As many testify in the business world, there are many MBA graduates who believe that they will earn more money, be more prepared, and advance more quickly than their non-MBA counterparts. However, those who are in the hiring seat are looking for both training and experience. Actions speak louder than certifications.

The Coach Approach

Because of these job interview weaknesses that come up with strengths question, coaches have a great opportunity to help their clients gain clarity. Watch this video on how a client can better answer the Strengths Question through coaching:

Remember, the best questions come from the coaching, not the coach’s cheat sheet! With that being said, here is my sample Job Interview Coaching Questions for the Strengths Question:

  1. What do you mean?
  2. How is this unique to you?
  3. What are your most productive experiences in this area?
  4. What are you learning about this strength?
  5. If you separated this task into 5 parts, what are your favorites?
  6. Who are you for a team when you do this?
  7. What’s a metaphor that describes you at your best in this?
  8. What is your story with this strength?
  9. You are the interviewer, how does this answer sound?
  10. What action do you want to take from here?

Video link

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