Strength-Spotting & Strengths-based Interviews & How To

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Strength-Spotting Interviews 20+ Questions and Techniques

Strength-spotting interviews benefit both the potential employee and the interviewer.

Strength-based interviewing gives candidates the opportunity to share their best qualities and highlight why they should be hired.

They can prove to the interviewer that they are the best individual for the job by providing examples of strength utilization in their past jobs.

On the other hand, a strength-based interview makes judging employees easier for the interviewer. They can easily quantify and list the pros and cons of an individual.

Then, they can evaluate if those strengths align with what the company is searching for. These interviews also tend to be more efficient, but not everyone knows how to perform a strength-based interview.

In this article, we will outline the questions you can ask during a strength-related interview and the best answers to strength questions.

What Is Strength Spotting?

Strengths are the positive qualities that improve our lives. They help us achieve career success or better our relationships. They are a part of our personality and impact how we and others see ourselves.

Most individuals struggle with evaluating their own strengths. They underestimate their abilities. Likewise, many also struggle with spotting others’ strengths.

Strength evaluation is difficult, regardless of how well you know the person. Even if you spend an immense of time with your coworkers or family, quantifying their strengths will still be a challenge.

However, the idea behind strength spotting helps solve this issue. Strength spotting is a technique that helps individuals evaluate their strengths and the strengths of those around them.

Once you identify these strengths, you can apply them to your daily activities. With this strengths approach, you tend to have more success and happiness as well.

Strength evaluations are one of the most common ways to spot strengths. Such evaluations typically come in the form of online tests.

The Gallup Strengths Test or Clifton StrengthsFinder are two of the most common tools you could use.

The Values in Action (VIA) strengths survey takes a slightly different approach to quantifying your strengths.

They align strengths with six primary virtues, which were first described by psychologist Martin Seligman. They include wisdom or knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence.

Through strength reflection, you can increase your own ability to spot your strengths. Once you know your strengths after taking a strengths test, think about your most happy and successful moments.

Consider which strengths contributed to your success, growth, or sense of well-being. After you become more familiar with your strengths, you can identify them without having to complete another test.

During strengths-based interviewing, strengths-spotting techniques could also be utilized.

Recognizing verbal cues and body language can help interviewers understand a candidate’s signature strengths. Many subtle changes in language and behavior could indicate a potential strength.

For instance, smiling, wide eyes, increased speed of speech, and posture changes could all indicate a candidate’s strengths.

Why It Is Important To Identify Strengths & List of 10 Benefits

Your strengths are a vital element of your personality. They contribute to your fulfillment and success in life.

Acknowledging your own strengths leads to increased psychological wellbeing, better use of your spare time/more productivity, more innovation, internal growth, and so on.

Many individuals tend to focus their personal growth on the idea of fixing their weaknesses. However, they neglect the importance of strength behavior.

List of 10 Benefits

The list of benefits that arise from strength recognition is extensive. Here are just a few examples:

  1. Boost in internal/intrinsic motivation. You will continue to pursue your goals even without external motivation.
  2. Increased fulfillment and satisfaction in everything from daily activities to career-long endeavors.
  3. Better coping with difficult times and overcoming sadness.
  4. Being comfortable with yourself and staying true to yourself in social events (increased authenticity).
  5. More consistent positive emotions and a more positive worldview in general.
  6. Improved well-being and better mental health.
  7. Less stress and burnout. A decreased risk for depression, anxiety, and similar disorders follows this lack of stress.
  8. Staying engaged at work and increased job satisfaction.
  9. Clearer goal identification and better ability to tackle your goals.
  10. More self-confidence and willingness to take calculated risks.

How Can You Start Spotting Strengths in Other People at Work?

While understanding your own character strengths is extremely important, recognizing others’ strengths is equally crucial.

Every individual has their own list of strengths, and you could help them harness them for the benefit of your organization as a whole.

If you are a leader, the practice of strength recognition has been proven as a more effective motivator and growth catalyst than overcoming weakness.

To find strengths, you must maintain a certain mindset when interacting with others. When at a meeting, look at the speakers and employees through the “strengths lens.”

Using the strength lens simply involves looking at others with the goal of identifying strengths in people. Tools that help people understand their strengths are the strengths test and the strength cards.

Look for moments when the employee seems most engaged and excited about what they are speaking about. Pay attention to certain body language cues, such as leaning in or moving hands enthusiastically.

Speech and word choice are often affected when someone talks about something they are passionate about, so take note of that as well.

Recall the previously mentioned VIA strengths report after the meeting is finished. Each of the strengths mentioned in VIA is associated with certain actions and beliefs.

See which of the strengths best align with a candidate’s daily performance in the office and how they spoke during the meeting.

For additional assessments, invite the person to perform a quick discussion of strengths with you. Leave a note detailing how you appreciate the strengths they have.

Mention a specific strength you think they have based on their contribution to the meeting. Ask them if they agree or disagree with your evaluation.

They may even tell you how they perform the applications of strengths in other aspects of their lives.

Real-Life Examples of Strengths-Spotting Interviewing

Strength-spotting interviews are commonly done in many businesses and across all industries and are based on typical strength-based interview questions.

For instance, many interviewers will start out by asking the candidate to list a few of their category strengths and their experience with using them.

When a teacher takes a strength interview, they would likely list their love of learning as a key strength. They may talk about being a good communicator or being patient as well.

Then, for additional questions, the interviewee may connect their strengths with their passions and current job.

They may note specific instances where they harnessed a strength to their advantage and list noteworthy times where a strength helped them overcome a challenge.

Sometimes, the interviewer will not directly ask for the candidate’s signature strengths. Instead, they will ask about their passions.

Typically, when someone is immensely passionate about something, they also perform that activity well.

If someone gives up tremendous amounts of time to perform an activity, the interviewer could also assume that the individual is persistent.

Many adult clients have an initial apprehension toward speaking about their strengths. They may feel like it is a form of bragging and thus downplay their abilities.

It is the interviewer’s job to help clients overcome this reluctance early on in the interview.

When the interview is underway, the individual giving the interview pays attention not just to the client’s words but also to their nonverbal cues.

If they get a wide-eyed smile, lean in, or change their tone of voice, that could signal they are passionate about something and/or have a strength in that field.

Finally, finishing a strengths interview ends with gratitude. The interviewer will thank the candidate for being open and honest, giving them an accurate insight into their strengths.

Bonus Tip: 5 Helpful Guiding Questions

Strength-related interviews typically do not follow a strict script. However, having a general idea of the strength-based interview questions you could be asked is a great way to prepare yourself.

Here are just a few of the questions you could be asked:

Question #1: How did you overcome barriers to success?
Here, the interviewer wishes to see an example of you overcoming challenges and pushing beyond your limitations to achieve success.

When talking about this moment, describe a time you felt overwhelmed, confused, or generally incapable of achieving your goals.

Tell the interviewer why you felt this way and which obstacles were preventing you from succeeding. Then, tell them about a strength you used to overcome this difficulty.

What made you realize that you could succeed, even when the odds were against you? Tell him or her about a mindset change that occurred.

If you previously thought success was impossible for you, detail how you overcame this belief. Tell the interviewer the steps you took to systematically address the problem you were facing.

Ensure you specify the specific strength that helped propel you to success.

Question #2: Who helped you during your darkest moments?

The interviewer knows that everyone has supporters that help them stay calm and positive. After all, that is one of the main benefits of being in a team (supporting one another during difficult times).

When describing your supporters, choose a time when you were truly defeated. This will truly exemplify that individual’s ability to lift you out of sadness and into a happier, more energetic state.

If you felt disengaged and had a lack of passion, this would be a good topic to focus on. Who was the individual who reinvigorated you?

After you describe the tough situation you were in, you cannot simply say, “(insert person’s name) helped me.” Instead, you should specify how they helped you.

What steps did they take to make you feel confident, calm, or happy? If you remember their exact words or actions, list them to the interviewer.

Remember, your supporters do not necessarily have to succeed on your behalf.

Even if they were bystanders, you simply helped give them hope with their words, that could be a great example of words fueling your motivation.

Bonus Tip 5 Helpful Guiding Questions

Question #3: When were you at your peak in life? What made this time special to you?

The point of this question is not to make your current situation seem dull. Instead, the interviewer wants to know what you consider success and what truly motivates you/ gives you happiness.

Recall a time when you felt especially fulfilled in life. Avoid equating fulfillment with monetary success. This would be one of the greatest mistakes you could make when answering this question.

Instead, think about a time when you worked extremely hard to achieve something and the immense satisfaction you received after finishing that task.

Think about the impact you made on your coworkers, friends, or customers when you achieved this success.

Your peak should be related to fulfilling yourself and achieving your goals, so share what made you motivated and happy after the high point of your life.

Since you were likely passionate about this moment, talk about what invokes such emotions in you.

Why was it meaningful? Recall the people and their reactions to their success. Talk about the impact you had on them, for example.

Question #4: What do you hope to achieve in the future?

The point of this question is to see whether or not your values and goals align with the goals/values of the company. Answer honestly and specifically. Give the interviewer your short-term goals.

These are goals you plan to achieve within days, weeks, months, or a year. This will help the interviewer know your immediate motivation when starting the job.

Then, speak about your longer-term goals, such as 5-15 year goals. Finally, give the interviewer deep insights into what you want to achieve over your lifetime.

This goal is your primary motivator and mission, so it is important that it can relate to the company’s goal.

Ensure that both your long and short-term goals related to your overall goal. You do not want your goals to be vague and sparse.

Question #5: What are you most proud of?

Many candidates believe this is a difficult question to answer. It can be tough to shorten your proudest moment into a few-minute response.

Also, many individuals feel like responding to this question is bragging. Do not approach the question with that mindset.

Instead, think of a moment when you achieved something meaningful to you. This should relate to the passion and strengths previously mentioned.

Tell the interviewer how much work you put into something and how happy you were to see success as a result.

Talk about how you saw someone else happy as a result of your work and the pride you felt after making that individual happy.

In general, the moment you describe as being your proudest should center around achieving your biggest goal and leaving a positive impact on others.

Frequently Asked Questions About Strength Interviews

What is the strengths interview?

Strength interviews are a type of interview which helps HR managers understand a candidate’s greatest strengths and abilities.

They wish to evaluate how well the candidate’s strengths align with the strengths required for the role.

Sometimes, the interviewer will directly ask the candidate to list or talk about their strengths.

Other times, they will ask about passions, goals, and moments of pride to indirectly learn about what motivates a candidate and the potential strengths they possess.

How do you find the strengths for the interview?

To find the strengths required for a certain role, look at the job description. Some job descriptions have a specific list of strengths already listed.

Some job descriptions are not as clear-cut. You may have to infer which strengths are necessarily based on the list of requirements and daily tasks.

For example, if a job listing lists daily communication between parties as a key duty, strong communication skills are likely required.

Simply think about potential skills that would benefit you during the listed activities, and you can understand the strengths required to fill that spot.

How do you answer the interview question “What are your strengths”?

As one of the most common interview questions, candidates often worry about how to address this question. Simply listing your strengths will not be enough to impress your employee.

However, downplaying your abilities will also hinder your odds of acquiring the job. Approach the question with confidence but also answer specifically.

When asked the question, give a real-world example of you using your strengths. Show how the strength left a positive impact on your organization, colleagues, or clients.

Then, if you have data to support your claim, add that as well.


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