Interviewing candidates is an important part of the hiring process, as it provides an opportunity to assess their suitability for the role and determine whether they will be a good fit for the organization. One effective approach to interviewing is the use of strength-based questions, which focus on a candidate’s natural talents and motivators rather than their past experience and competencies.
In this blog post, we will share 31 strength-based interview questions that you can use to get to know your candidates better and assess their potential fit for the role. By asking these questions, you will gain valuable insights into a candidate’s strengths, motivations, and potential contributions to your organization.
31 Strength based interview questions to ask candidates
Strength based interview questions warm-up questions
Regardless of the atmosphere or the style of questioning, interviews are a daunting process for many people. Therefore, warm-up questions can help ease candidates into the process. They can also help employers gain a general sense of a candidate’s demeanour, personality and communication skills.
- What recreational activity do you enjoy most?
- What are you most proud of achieving in life?
- Which school subject did you enjoy the most?
- How would your family and friends characterize your personality?
- How would your former colleagues describe your work ethic?
- What drives you in life?
- What motivates you in the workplace?
- How do you define success?
- What do you consider the elements of a successful day?
- Do you usually finish all the tasks you set for yourself daily?
- What makes you believe you are the ideal candidate for this job?
- What motivated you to apply for this role and our company?
- What do you like about collaborating with others?
- What is your preferred method of learning?
- What are you proudest of accomplishing?
- What tasks come most naturally to you?
- Is having meaning in your work important to you?
- What is your most significant piece of advice for other people?
Strength based interview questions single-response questions
Candidates may give neutral answers to interview questions in order to avoid committing to a specific response. However, you probably want to know what unique experiences and abilities a candidate can bring to the role. Asking single-response questions with a limited number of answers can help to elicit more specific and justified responses from candidates, providing a better understanding of their capabilities and potential fit for the role.
Here are some strength based interview questions you could ask candidates:
- Do you need time to absorb new concepts or are you a quick learner?
- Do you begin tasks immediately or do you have a tendency to procrastinate?
- Does constructive criticism motivate or discourage you?
- Are you more comfortable in a leadership or a supervised role?
- Do you prefer starting or finishing tasks?
- What do you value more, salary or the work environment?
- Do you prefer customer-facing or business-facing work?
- Do you communicate better in writing or in person?
- Do you work better under pressure or in a relaxed atmosphere?
- When working on a project, do you prefer to look at the big picture or focus on the details?
- How do you feel about working on a deadline?
- Do you handle conflict well or do you try to avoid it?
- How do you think this job matches your strengths?
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What to look for when asking strength-based interview questions?
When asking strength-based interview questions, it can be helpful to look for the following:
- Authentic answers that reflect a candidate’s true strengths and motivators
- Specific examples that demonstrate a candidate’s abilities and potential fit for the role
- A balance between a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, with their strengths compensating for any potential areas of weakness.
By considering these factors, you can gain a better understanding of a candidate’s capabilities and potential fit for the job.
What is strength-based recruitment?
Unlike traditional recruitment methods that focus on a candidate’s skills and behaviours, strength-based recruitment focuses on their natural talents and motivators.
This approach emphasizes a candidate’s intrinsic motivation and the driving forces behind their behaviour, rather than simply considering their competencies. By taking a strength-based approach, it is possible to identify candidates who are well-suited to the job and likely to be engaged and motivated in their work.
Skill vs. Strength
A skill is the ability to perform an action. Skills can be learned and developed to help gain expertise in a specific area or field. They can be learned through life, education, and work experiences.
A strength is defined as a character trait or attribute. It is an innate ability, talent, curiosity, or passion that has most likely been a part of you since childhood. Your strengths guide your thoughts, decisions, and actions.
Competency vs strength-based interviewing
Competency-based interviewing is a technique used to assess a candidate’s suitability for a job by evaluating their knowledge, skills, and abilities in relation to the specific requirements of the position. This approach focuses on a candidate’s past experience, and aims to determine whether they have the necessary competencies to perform the job successfully.
However, competency-based interviewing is not very predictive of future job performance as it primarily relies on past experience which only has a 0.16 correlation with job performance.*
In contrast, strength-based interviewing is an approach that focuses on a candidate’s natural talents, behaviours and motivators. Rather than evaluating their competencies and past experience, this method looks at the intrinsic factors that drive a candidate’s behaviour and performance. The goal of strength-based interviewing is to identify candidates who are well-suited to the job and are likely to be engaged and motivated in their work. In contrast to competency-based interviewing which focuses on past experiences, strenght-based interviewing focuses on a candidates’ behaviour which has a correlation of 0.45 with job performance.*
Why do employers use strength-based interviews?
Strengths-based recruitment can help you in all of these areas by:
- Putting people in the right roles where they excel
- Widening the talent pool available to your business to include people with the right innate strengths who may previously have been overlooked because they lacked the relevant experience
- Reducing the time and money you spend recruiting people who are wrong for the role or training people to fix their weaknesses
- Reducing the cost of staff turnover
- More genuine, pleasurable experience for candidates
What does a strength-based interview assess?
- How well a candidate is likely to do the job, not just whether they can do it
- Whether the candidate would be motivated in and energised by the job
- Natural behaviours: how candidates typically respond to situations they would face in the role
What are the benefits of strength-based interviews?
Find the right fit
72.8% of hiring managers admit attracting the right job candidates is their greatest challenge. Strength-based interviewing allows you to identify candidates whose personal strengths and preferred working style are appropriate for the job role!
If in the right job, people are inherently more motivated to do their jobs, which leads to increased productivity levels and greater efficiency at work.
Increased employee engagement
Employees who are aware of and utilize their strengths are six times more likely to be engaged in their work, leading to better overall employee engagement.
Better retention rates
When workers are well-matched to their jobs and feel as though they are using their strengths, they are less likely to leave their positions. This leads to improved employee retention and can result in decreased hiring expenses by avoiding the costs associated with a bad hire.
Minimized impact of unconscious bias
Using a strength-based approach to recruitment can help to reduce unconscious bias by focusing on a candidate’s strengths. Rather than emphasizing their educational background, ethnicity or other factors that have no correlation with future job performance. By taking this approach you can create a more diverse and equitable hiring process.
By focusing on people’s potential and drive rather than their hard skills, it is possible to create a more inclusive workplace that offers a level playing field to candidates from diverse backgrounds. This can help to foster a sense of equality and inclusivity within the workplace.
What are the disadvantages of strength-based interviews?
There are a two main downsides to the strength-based interview: impact of unconscious biases and low predictability.
Potential for unconscious bias
People often take their most powerful talents for granted or may be unaware of them.
- Self-report bias. When a candidate is asked to rate themselves on a certain aspect, for example when it comes to their strengths, it is scientifically proven that they will either overestimate or underestimate themselves. For example, when asking candidates whether they are good at problem-solving, they are likely to either severely overestimate or underestimate their true capability.
- Overconfidence effect. This is the tendency to be more confident in your own abilities than is objectively true. For example, one of the ongoing arguments is that men may have a higher tendency to self-promote than women. For example, when asking the question about what the candidate is most proud of, the answers might vary depending whether the candidate is male or female.
On top of that, the answers to interview questions are also prone to social desirability bias (and therefore prone to intentional faking or unintentional self-presentation). For example, if you ask a candidate whether they are a quick learner, chances are they will say yes because that’s what they expect you want to hear.
Interviewer bias refers to both the conscious and unconscious judgement of an interviewee that is not based on things that actually determine their fit for the job role or their skills.
- Similarity/Affinity bias. During a job interview, this is often perpetrated by asking candidates about their personal life, hobbies, and other non-job-related questions. Just because we assume that someone with the same strengths will also have the same soft skills as we have ourselves. For example, when asking questions such as “What recreational activity do you enjoy most?”.
- Confirmation bias occurs when we form an initial judgement of a candidate and then we continuously focus on any information that will support our initial impression about this person. For example, when candidate comes across as anxious, you might automatically assume that they will not perform well under pressure and strict deadlines.
Lack of predictive power
Somebody’s past experience is not necessarily a predictor of their future job performance (e.g. the correlation between work experience and job performance is 0.16.). Additionally, research shows that by 2050, 85 million jobs will disappear, 97 million new jobs will arise & 50% of the workforce will need to reskill.
This means that what once used to be a strength in the future might not be anymore.
Some food for thought about strength-based interviewing
If you want to create truly inclusive hiring practices, you need to go beyond selecting candidates based on how they come across in interviews. You’d be surprised how many pitfalls when assessing candidates solely based on interviews you can fall into.
To effectively implement strength-based recruitment, it can be helpful to use tools and assessments that support this approach. For example, pre-employment testing that focuses on uncovering a candidate’s strengths can provide valuable insights into their abilities and potential fit for the role. This can help to ensure that candidates are well-matched to the job and can contribute to the organization in a meaningful way.
You can then discuss the results during the strength-based interview process to learn more about what motivates candidates.
Based on science, not gut feeling.
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