Preparing for Strength-Based Interviews
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The Institute of Student Employers have revealed that 79% of companies use competency-based approaches when recruiting students. The idea is to find out if you have the skills and knowledge to do the job.
But more and more employers are now including strength-based interviews and assessments as part of their selection process (43%). But what the f-word is a strength-based interview?
Here is our guide to preparing for strength-based interviews...
What is a strength-based interview?
A strength-based interview will take place during a face-to-face interview or assessment centre.
This form of assessment concentrates on what you enjoy and think you’re good at, rather than competencies you can provide evidence of.
The process will assess you against a company’s core values. Employers are moving towards the strength-based approach to assess you on your future potential instead of previous experience. And that’s good for you!
Have you ever NOT applied for a job because you thought you didn’t have any or enough experience? In a strength-based assessment, your lack of experience really doesn’t matter.
Companies that use strength-based interviews
Here’s a list of just some of the companies that currently include a strength-based interviews as part of their selection process:
As mentioned in our captivating intro above, 43% of employers have adopted the strength-based approach for interviews and assessment centres. And that number is growing faster than a basil plant.
That means it’s highly likely you’ll come across a strength-based assessment if you apply for a student placement, summer internship or a graduate role in the future - even if the company is not included in this list.
So you best be prepared.
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How to prepare
Strength-based interviews are designed to prevent you from planning or rehearsing answers, because you have zero idea what they’re going to ask.
But there are some steps you can take to prepare:
Here are some example questions
For more champion advice on approaching an interview, read our guide to the STAR Interview Technique - which is really helpful for answering the most common interview questions.
If you've got an upcoming interview, you also might want to check out EY's Interview Tips. These tips are applicable to interviews and assessment centres with any employer, even the milkman.
How to answer strength-based questions?
Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind when you’re answering strength-based questions…
1. Be honest. That might sound obvious, but it’s incredibly tempting to exaggerate and oversell yourself in a job interview. In a strength-based interview it’s in your interest to be honest.
Remember there are no right or wrong answers in this format. Employers are looking for your energy and engagement; they want to discover the real you - no matter how lame that sounds. By being honest, you will come across as more authentic - and authenticity is stronger than false brilliance.
2. Try and avoid generic or clichéd answers. For example, if they ask you something like ‘What are your weaknesses?’ don’t say you’re a perfectionist, or that you’re too organised.
Similar to the point above, it’s better to be honest. Give a real weakness, but explain how you are working to improve that weakness.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat the question. If you misheard (or think you might have misheard) a question, don’t take any chances! Ask for clarification. It’s better to hear the question again rather than guess what the interviewer was asking.
Other types of assessment
The most common form of assessment. It focuses on the alignment between your skills and knowledge and what’s required to perform a job.
Technical assessments are a more specific type of competency-based assessment, but look for specific skills, such as competence in a programming language or statistical technique.
Values-basedFocuses on if a candidate is aligned with the organisation’s values. An interviewer will press you on your ethical approach to business-related scenarios.
This video from a former placement student offers some cracking insight into what you might experience at an interview and assessment centre for a placement year. So give it a watch.