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Career advice: Identify your key strengths

career advice identify your key strengths

So you have begun your job search and are preparing your CV and getting yourself interview ready. A key element to being successful with securing a new job is understanding what you are good at so you can effectively sell yourself.


The vast majority of employers will ask you a question around this during an interview. For example, “What are you key strengths?” “What skills can you bring to our business?”.

Here are four ways to identify your key strengths and be ready to answer these questions:

  • Do your own SWOT analysis looking at your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The key with this is to be honest with yourself, listing what you would like to think are your strengths will not be useful.

  • Think about what you enjoy and equally what you do not. Typically you enjoy what you are good at, so this can be a simple but effective indicator.

  • Ask for regular feedback from your managers and peers. Again ask them to be honest with you.

  • Review past appraisals and one-to-ones. Don’t just look at what they identified as strengths but also areas of development. Have you improved on these? Are they now a strength?

Handling SWOT at interviews

Strengths: Think about positives which are your key selling points

What influences and motivates you?  What are your attributes for success?

Talk about your personal characteristics; for example good analytical skills, determination, experience with specific software or products and problem solving.

Weaknesses: Negative areas you need to improve on

This is the toughest aspect of a SWOT analysis  to communicate to your potential future employer.  Be realistic and show that you realise and are aware of your weaknesses along with what you are doing to turn the weakness into a strength.  

For example; 'I sometimes get into too many details that may delay execution' or 'I find it difficult to say 'No' if someone asks for help which can overload my schedule'.

Opportunities: Positive external conditions to take advantage of

Start off with opportunities you see in the job you are interviewing for. This will show your interest and positive attitude.

For example, if you mentioned in your strengths that you have good communication skills you could say 'Due to my knowledge on the CRM database I can help train new members of the team in turn improving my confidence level and presentation skills'.  

Threats: Negative external conditions you can't control but can minimise

There are always threats you will face at your workplace; for example; overworking yourself by taking on so many responsibilities or your job responsibilities changing.  

Suggest how you can minimise these threats; for example; using time management to avoid getting overworked and upgrading technical skills to keep up with industry changes to cope with the job requirements. 

If you have effectively used the above methods you will be armed with a list of strengths that you can effectively sell to future employers. You will equally be aware of your weakness and can take steps to develop these.

Honesty is crucial with the above methods, so be honest with yourself and you will excel in your job search.

Related interview advice

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Research your employer

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Interview questions

CBI - Competency Interview Questions

To get personalised career advice, get in contact with your local office.