Strengths Based Interviews - what are they?

Posted in: Interviews

As you probably know, one of the ways the Careers Service supports students is by offering Mock Interviews. Last week, I was helping a student prepare for an Interview at EY, one of the early adopters of strengths-based recruitment. This is a growing trend; recruiters such as Nestle, Barclays and Standard Chartered have also moved away from competency based interviews. Many of you will be familiar with competency-based questions. These look for evidence of transferable skills (such as team-work, leadership, communication etc) all designed to answer the question “Can you do the job?”  This style of interviewing is about your ability to do the job and it has its flaws! Just because you can do the job doesn't mean you want to!


The Strengths based approach is different. Whilst it recognises the importance of skills and abilities, it also acknowledges that skills can be learnt. In a strengths-based interview recruiters are not looking for rehearsed answers to competency questions, instead they are looking for animation, energy and passion. It’s a very different approach. This video from EY explains why they use strength based approach really well.

Below are some examples of strength based questions:

  • Are you a starter of a finisher?
  • What do you love to do in your spare time?
  • What do you find quick to learn?
  • How would a close friend describe you?
  • What qualities would you bring to this team?
  • Are you a big picture or a detail person?
  • What activities give you an energy buzz?
  • Give me an example of a weakness?

As you can see, the interviewer is focusing on the things you love doing! Therefore being authentic and letting your passion shine through helps!  The questions are more personal and interviewers will look at body language and listen for other signals like tone of voice to identify whether you take pride in what you have been doing. Our top tip is to think about your interests and what you enjoy doing before the interview! Make sure you consider all aspects of your life - not just your academic studies! Finally and most importantly, be yourself! Allow your natural energy and enthusiasm to permeate your answers... Good luck!

Posted in: Interviews


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