Your Greatest Strength in a Job Interview is Efficiency.

You sense the interview is coming to an end, the questions are getting sparse, and it’s difficult to gauge your potential.

This dream job could come to fruition but the weights on you. Sitting across the table in silence, your mind wanders to how all the moisture from your mouth found it’s way to perspiring under your arms. At that moment, the silence is broken and your focus is redirected.

“What is your greatest strength?”, they ask.

You’ve been there. Sitting in a job interview as they roll through the list of questions trying to determine if you‘re the candidate they seek.

In one way or another, they always question your strength. Sometimes they outright ask you. Other times it may be tucked under explaining how you overcame a difficult work situation or how your workflow sets you apart.

In response, it can be easy to default to your passion, reliability, consistency, or patience with others. You might be a self-starter, great at keeping yourself motivated. Or maybe you stay calm and composed during high-stress situations.

All commendable traits, but the answer companies are looking for is efficiency.

Barista, designer, cashier, mid-level management, sales — regardless of the position, you need to be efficient in the task at hand. You see, efficiency is a strength that directly impacts the company. If you can master peak performance using minimal resources, you‘re bound to achieve the highest level output. Or as business translates it, profit.

Now you’re thinking, “Sure, I’m good at my job and even clock in and out on time”. That’s not the efficiency that’s going to set you apart from John in accounting. You need to analyze your tasks, break them down, and reorganize for optimal production, time, money, and resource usage without being asked.

Here’s an everyday example. You’re cooking a tasty, dependable dinner, spaghetti. Let’s say you start with putting garlic bread in the oven and place your pasta in boiling water. You begin cooking down your tomato sauce then realized you now have to brown your meat in a separate pan. By the end, your pasta is overcooked, your bread is burnt, and you’ve dirtied more dishes than necessary.

Now, what if we took that simple process, broke down each part and rearranged it to make it more efficient. Typically you start with browning the meat, then add your diced tomatoes and spices to create your sauce. While that’s cooking down, boil your pasta and throw some garlic bread in the oven for the last 8 minutes. VoilĂ  — dinner is served. Hot, timely, and with minimal dishes.

Obviously, this is a natural trait for me. Yes, I’m the girl that loads the dishwasher and puts groceries on the checkout belt in a specific way. It’s a trait that can be learned though and easily exercised in your day-to-day. How can you cook dinner faster, organize your fridge better, get more housework done during your already busy schedule?

Now apply that same concept to your job. How can you design wireframes more effectively, make three lattes in the time it takes Sally to make one, or manage your team to exemplify their individual strengths?

When you prove your efficiency, you can win interviews, become an asset, and confidently ask for raises.

So next time you’re asked what your strength is, respond with efficiency, and show them why.