As you know, now is the time for applying for internships and graduate schemes. In fact, it's the Law fair today in the Great Hall from 1-3.30pm! But were you aware that a number of employers are using the strengths method at interview? Firms include for example Aviva, BAE Systems, Barclays, Ernst & Young, Nestlé, Standard Chartered, Royal Mail, and Unilever.
Employers are increasingly bored and frustrated by the traditional competencies model. I.e. Describe a time when you have…. This Guardian article (17 February 2014) summaries why.
Matt Stripe, Nestlé UK & Ireland group HR director, says:
"Strengths are particularly useful when recruiting individuals who don't have a lot of experience – such as graduates. It allows us to identify potential and individuals who have the same passion about our industry as we do. It also generates fewer fake, pre-prepared answers, and gives a genuine insight into candidates."
Recruiters are spending a LOT of money recruiting for the right staff, as well as training and development. So retention is vital. The challenges businesses face are becoming increasingly unpredictable, hence they need to recruit people who fit the business and their ethos/values. Research suggests that workers who are passionate about their job and the industry they are in, are more likely to enjoy their work, If they are happy in work and enjoy what they do, they are more likely to perform to a higher standard, working at their best for both the organisation and its customers.
I like the strengths model too. As an interviewer, I typically ask candidates how they would apply their strengths to the role. I find it reveals much about personal qualities. It shows me what candidates feel they are good at, what they would bring to the team and what they naturally enjoy doing.
· Questions you might be asked at strengths interviews:
· What comes easily to you?
· What do you learn quickly?
Do you prefer starting or finishing things?
· What subjects do you most enjoy studying?
· What things give you energy?
· What do you love to do in your spare time?
· How would a close friend describe you?
· What qualities would you bring to this team?
· Are you a big picture or a detail person?
· Give me an example of a weakness?
· Describe a successful day you have had.
· Do you find you have enough hours in the day to complete all the things you want to do?
· What things are always left on your to-do list and not finished?
· What do you enjoy doing the least?
· What gets done first on your ‘to do’ list? What gets done last?
Is there a right way to answer any of these questions?
There are no right or wrong answers as it is down to your own strength preferences. But have a read through the resources to help.
Don't forget - you also need to check that the organisation and the position is right for you too. Do your research and investigate the organisation when applying and look at their industry/sector too. What's happening? What are the latest stories in the news? What are their values? Could you work in their environment?
Further useful resources on strengths-based interviewing: