How to prepare for a strengths-based interview
Employers are increasingly adopting strengths-based interview techniques to get the most value out of the application process.
These interviews look to understand the kind of things that you enjoy and that interest you. They are designed to stop candidates from feeling like they have to cheat the system or second guess what their interviewer wants to hear.
However, that’s not an excuse to go in cold without any preparation. It’s not about rehearsing perfect answers, but you still want to ensure that you shine in the best possible light. Here are some ways to prepare yourself for a strengths-based interview:
1. Begin with some self-analysis
Start by thinking carefully about what engages you and the kind of tasks and activities you enjoy. While you’ll already have an instinctive sense of the above, you want these ideas to be fresh and clear in your mind. Having this self-awareness will give you the confidence to deal with different types of strengths-based questions and provide fluid responses.
2. Revisit your application
It’s important to be able to link your core qualities and interests to real examples from different areas of your life. Go back to your CV and/ or application form; think about your experiences: was there a course or extracurricular activity that really engaged you? Did you thrive in a particular work placement, were there aspects of a previous role that made you feel positive about yourself and your job?
3. Get to know the company
While the focus is very much on you, there’s no harm in seeking to understand the qualities and values that your prospective employer holds dear. We’re not suggesting you deliberately tailor your answers to these, but it’s useful to see where your values align and the kind of qualities and strengths you should be drawing attention to. It might also help to identify the type of language you should be using to describe your experience.
4. Understand the questions and let them sink in
While every interview is different, it’s useful to have an idea of the kinds of questions you may face. Brace yourself for quite a few questions – it usually takes time to build up a rounded picture of your personality and qualities.
• What type of things are you good at?
• What kind of tasks do you most enjoy doing and why?
• Do you feel more energised at the start of a project or at the end?
• When have you felt most fulfilled?
• What achievements are you most proud of and why?
• What particular aspects of this role do you think you’ll enjoy?
Google ‘strengths based interview questions’ to pick up some more ideas.
Remember, your interviewer is looking for honest and genuine insight, not perfectly scripted answers. Rather than rote learning your responses you could try jotting down a few bullet points or using a spider diagram to brainstorm key ideas or experiences.
At the end of the day strengths based interviews are as much about your helping yourself to determine whether the role is right for you as about the employer uncovering their perfect candidate. Treat it as a mutual learning process, be honest and true to yourself, and you can’t go too far wrong