The Strengths-Based Interview – How To Prepare

By Denise Taylor

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A few companies such as Aviva, BAE Systems and Ernst & Young are using strengths-based interviews. This is a very different style of interview to the more common competency based one. 

This type of interview is becoming more popular as the number of candidates highly prepared to answer competency based interview questions has increased. Candidates are being coached in how to provide well rehearsed answers and it's difficult for even an experienced interviewer to get underneath the examples shared.

Why Strengths-Based Interviews?

The strengths-based approach focuses more on understanding the person, and understanding what they do well.  As a candidate the interviewer wants to understand who you are, how you are likely to work and to make sure you are the right person for the particular job.

It can be harder to prepare for this type of interview as you don’t know what the interviewer is looking for. Also, rather than ask the deeper competency based questions you get quick questions and some of these questions may be closed.

Preparing For Strengths-Based Interviews

To prepare, think about who you are and your preferred way of doing things. Think about the achievements you have on your CV or that you included on your application, and think about what you enjoyed and why. Think about what you like to do and what types of situations bring out your best and energise you.

This preparation will help you to be clearer on what you want out of a career and thus help ensure that you apply for jobs that will appreciate your achievements.

The interviewer will want to know who you are and how well you match with the particular job. They ask questions such as what do you do well? when are you at your best?.  As well as listening to what you have to say, the interviewer will also pay attention to your tone of voice and body language.

As in other interviews you will want to find out more about the company and if this is the right company for you.  Will the job use your strengths and allow you to use your natural talents?

I can see benefits to this approach, candidates can feel like they can be themselves, and organisations feel they get to know the real person, but will it help you get the job? What if being you means that you don’t demonstrate the qualities an organization is looking for.?

It's certainly a reasonable approach to apply for a job because you need a job, even if it's not your ideal job. You may have done a similar job before, and done it well, but had to operate outside of your preferred way of working. Perhaps you can work effectively as an accountant but you have to put many of your key strengths such as creativity to one side and to demonstrate much more effort on numerical analysis.

If more organisations got for this approach you will want focus more on your strengths and choose a job that relates to them. To find out more about your strengths VIA offers a free assessment.

Denise Taylor is a double award winning career coach and Chartered Psychologist with Amazing People, established in 1998. She is also the author of 7 books including How To Get A Job In A Recession.

Image credit: Quozio


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