The key to strengths based interviews

Recently I visited FDM Group to observe an assessment day at their Glasgow office (big thanks to the FDM staff who were very welcoming and importantly to the candidates for letting me observe them too!).  FDM use strengths based interviewing as part of their assessment process and I picked up so many useful tips to pass on to those of you who are preparing for a strengths based interview.

1. Preparation is vital

As with any interview the key to performing well is proper preparation.  The wording of many strengths based interview questions doesn’t always make clear that the interviewer is looking for examples, but they are. Make sure you put the time in to preparing properly and thinking through different examples that you can talk about to back up what you’re saying about your skills.

2. Pause for thought

It might sound a bit strange but a bit of silence in an interview can be a good thing.  You might get asked a tricky question, something you weren’t expecting or something you just haven’t prepared for.  You don’t need to launch into your answer the instant your interviewer has asked you the question; it’s fine to take a pause to give yourself some thinking time.  Much better to take a pause for thought and then answer the question rather than fill the time with ‘waffle’ that doesn’t really address the question!

3. Remember results!

In many strengths based interviews your interviewer won’t probe you for more details, so it’s crucial that you give enough detail in your answers, especially when you’re talking about specific examples from your experiences. Remember results and sum up the outcomes from your experiences; were you successful at what you did and how do you know? This also ensures your answer finishes on a positive note.

4. Take an interest and show your enthusiasm

Much of the advice on the web about strengths based interviews tells you to be yourself and certainly you do want to be yourself as strengths based interviews are all about understanding you and what motivates you but you should also consider how you can express your interest and enthusiasm in the interview (you might even be being assessed on the level of engagement and enthusiasm you show in the interview).  Think about how you can come across in an engaging way through your body language, facial expressions and tone of voice.  Interviewing candidates all day is also a tiring business and an enthusiastic and interested candidate can go a long way towards helping the day go that bit better for an interviewer!

5. Beware of the Google search!

Finally beware of just using a Google search to find information and advice about strengths based interviews online.  There’s a lot of misleading advice out there (such as not needing to prepare for strengths based interviews!), so if you’re using online information to help you with your preparation make sure it’s credible and reliable.

Want to find out more?

Start with the Interviews section of the Careers Service website which includes a section on strengths based interviews and links to a few good websites with handy advice on how to prepare.  If you’re interested you can also read my Insider News report giving the full lowdown on the FDM assessment Day on MyCareerHub.

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