Interview Prep: Identifying a Strength vs. a Skill

Posted by The Editors on October 18, 2011
Interview Prep: Identifying a Strength vs. a Skill
Here at WetFeet, we hear a lot of confusion from our readers about how to answer the go-to interview question, “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?”

Most people trip up on identifying a weakness without completely copping out and naming a strength disguised as a weakness (and lucky for you we have a whole article addressing how to form an exceptional answer). But it can be just as difficult to accurately address your strengths in the workplace—especially if you’re confusing them with skills.

In general, a good rule of thumb for identifying a skill versus a strength is that a skill is something that can be taught. Some examples could be knowledge of a certain style of copyediting, proficient with Microsoft QuickBooks, or fluent in Mandarin. Strengths, on the other hand, are qualities that you’re born with or natural attributes. Some examples include being creative, public speaking, or having exceptional organizational skills.

Since skills are easier to teach, when your interviewer asks about your strengths, make sure you’re really highlighting your best attributes, and not just saying you’re a whiz with Adobe InDesign—that’s a skill. Another important thing to note is you should have examples to back up your strengths. It’s easy to say you’re organized, but can you prove it? Maybe you were chosen to speak at your annual stakeholders meeting because of your knack for public speaking. Or you were entrusted with tracking your department’s sales because of your exceptional organizational skills and keen attention to detail—that’s two strengths!

Just like forming your answer to the weakness part of the question, when it comes down to evaluating your strengths it’s most important to prepare and rehearse your answer (and don’t be afraid to brag a little!).

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