Software Engineer: What are your biggest strengths? 6 top tips

The best way to answer “what are your biggest strengths as a software developer” is to be self-assured, specific, detailed, and relate it to your potential employer. On average, 118 people apply for a single job so getting these types of questions correct in the interview can help set you apart.

Software engineers tend to come in a variety of personality types that lend themselves to talking their achievements down. Finding out your personality type is important. In general, people tend to struggle to talk about what they are good at and the things that make them superior candidates in an interview. 

Talking about your strengths is difficult because you need to show the interviewer you have what it takes to work at their company, without coming across as arrogant or a showoff. Getting the balance right is hard and it’s one of the reasons developers dislike the question in general. 

Let’s explore the best ways to answer “What are your biggest strengths” as a software engineer. Let’s first look at how to pick a weakness to talk about, then the right weaknesses to pick. After that, we’ll look at tips for answering questions about your shortcomings and then move on to example answers for what your biggest weaknesses as a developer are.

Strong climber

Why do companies ask “What are your biggest strengths” in a software engineering interview?

Companies ask developers about their strengths to allow them to demonstrate their value to the business. It is a question that allows candidates to shine by discussing what makes them unique and sets them apart. 

Candidates are often asked this question because: 

  1. It gives them a chance to impress the interviewer 
  2. They can discuss their experience at length
  3. It highlights certain aspects of their personality
  4. The business wants to see if you match the criteria

Unlike other interview questions which ask about your biggest weaknesses, discussing your strengths isn’t put there to trip you up or make you uncomfortable. It is a way for businesses to see whether you fit the criteria for the role and will be useful to them in the long run. 

It takes an average of 24 weeks to navigate the hiring process, so make sure you come prepared when asked this question. Use this as an opportunity to show the interview your skills align with their needs. Don’t be shy. Use it as a chance to show why you are the right person for the job. 

Importantly self-awareness is a good trait for a good software developer. Showing them you know where you excel is a good thing. It means you have considered your current skill levels and likely know your shortcomings too. 

Examples of good strengths to talk about in a software interview

Not all strengths are equal. Some qualities are good to talk about in an interview and demonstrate you are right for them. Joking around or mentioning things outside of work should be avoided. They aren’t concerned with how big your deadlift or bench press is when they ask this question. 

Different companies are looking for various strengths. But generally, you can always discuss certain strengths that will help propel you to the top of the pile.

The best strengths to talk about in your software engineering interviews include:

  • Experience
  • Clear thinking
  • Questioning
  • Self-motivated
  • Thoroughness
  • Confidence
  • Modestness
  • Passion
  • Creative and critical thinking
  • A love of learning
  • Analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Open-mindedness
  • Soft skills

Never underestimate the power of your experience. If you have numerous years in the industry make sure to mention it at length. Technology changes so frequently that having worked through a few of the cycles is a big plus. 

Software engineers also often forget the strength of soft skills. Remember that you will be working in a team and need to communicate with people daily. Soft skills are a valuable asset even in an extremely technical environment. 

Tips on answering “What are your strengths as a software engineer?”

Remember that they are asking about your strengths because they want to give you a chance to show what makes you great. They want to see if you can demonstrate your best qualities in relation to what they are looking for in a candidate. 

Endlessly listing off things that make you great isn’t going to cut it here. You need to highlight a few of your key qualities and then try to show how these are relevant to your potential employer. Each company is different so you’ll need to do your homework and find out what they are looking for. There is no use professing what a great React developer you are if you are applying for a backend role. 

Let’s explore some top tips for talking about your strengths as a software engineer.

1. Be self-assured

This question is your time to shine. Don’t shy away from what you are good at and approach the conversation with absolute confidence in your ability. After all, how is the interviewer supposed to believe in you, if you don’t? 

Being confident can sometimes be a fine line. Don’t go overboard as you can come across as arrogant. Admit you still have things to learn but turn up the heat when discussing the things you have achieved. 

2. Be precise

Make sure to frame your strengths to fit the job role. Don’t start talking about how great you are at kitesurfing or weightlifting. The things you mention should be relevant and crucial to the job you are applying for. If you are a front-end developer going for a React role, discuss how you modernize an old code base with TypeScript and React. 

3. Dig into the detail

When discussing your strengths as a software developer be detailed. Don’t just rattle off bullet points of what you are good at. You need to mention the specific strength, how it’s been used, and the results. Impress the employer with real-life examples of where you have implemented solutions using the strengths you mention. 

4. Prepare well

It sounds like a simple tip but you can’t imagine how often it is overlooked. The question is often phrased in a variety of ways, so make sure you are ready for that. Also, have concrete demonstrable examples for each strength that you mention. It’ll involve a lot of homework and writing examples but it’s all worth it to get a better job.

Look at your CV and use it to highlight the things you have achieved. 

5. Be formulaic

Interviews generally last between 45 minutes and an hour. The interviewers have a set range of questions they want to move through. When asked about your strengths you don’t want to waffle. Keep things concise and precise. The best way to do this is to be formulaic about everything you bring up. It can be done in three easy steps:

  1. Mention what the strength is 
  2. Discuss where and how you have used it
  3. Elaborate on the results

Doing it like this avoids the interviewer’s eyes glazing over. 

6. Relate to the company

It’s all good demonstrating your strengths. But try and highlight how this would be useful to your potential employer. It’ll take a bit of research to find out what they are looking for but tie in your strengths with their needs. 

You don’t have to do this after every strength but try and round off your discussion by making yourself relatable to the business.

Example answers for the question “What are your strengths?”

Below we have outlined some sample answers for software engineers who have to answer questions about their strengths. You’ll notice they follow a similar structure: 

  1. What is your strength?
  2. How have you applied it?
  3. What’s the result?

Experience

“I feel my two decades of experience in the software industry is one of my strengths. I’ve been part of major migration efforts and have overseen the upgrade of large codebases at multiple companies. The result of which has meant that I am comfortable navigating the various issues that arise in enterprise-scale code bases. As a business that is transitioning from X to Y, my previous experience in such an environment would make me a perfect fit for the role of Z.”

Soft Skills

“My soft skills have always been one of my greatest assets. I can effectively and efficiently communicate with a wide variety of stakeholders. In previous roles, I oversaw the building of strong relationships with our core user base. The connections and trust we built allowed us to deliver high-quality features to our users with maximum confidence. It sounds like my communication abilities would be of great use when trying to build and establish a relationship when launching product X.”

Problem-solving

“The biggest challenge as a software developer is to solve problems in an effective manner that fits with the business needs and within time constraints. My biggest strength is my ability to take a holistic approach to problem-solving and make sure that we can coordinate a solution that suits everyone. 

Previously, I have worked at large-scale startups with numerous stakeholders all pulling in multiple directions. On project X I was able to implement Y which helped steer everyone in the same direction. Based on problem Z at your company, I think my problem-solving abilities could help get the product launched.

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