Introduction: competency-based and strengths-based interviews
Historically, many law firms have used competency-based questions during job interviews to find out whether an applicant has the skills required to do a job. Competency-based questions such as “give me an example of a time when you demonstrated teamwork skills”, are common and applicants can prepare for these types of questions by looking at the job specification and in particular, the skills the employer has stated are required to do the job. For example, if the job specification says that you require organisational skills, an applicant should prepare by thinking about times when they have demonstrated organisational skills.
On the other hand, strengths-based interviews are designed to find out what you enjoy doing, what motivates you and what you are passionate about, rather than just looking at what skills you have. The interviewer will be trying to really get to know who you are and what strengths you have that make you suitable for the job you are applying for.
Why use strengths-based interviews?
A variety of employers around the world use strengths-based interviews to try to find candidates who have the strengths for the job that they are applying for. In addition, this form of interviewing is used to try to find employees who are really passionate about the job. By looking at an individual’s personality carefully and trying to ascertain what motivates them, it can be argued that the company is more likely to find someone it can retain long-term.
How do I prepare for a strengths-based interview?
As with any interview, it is important not to come across as someone who is just giving an answer that has been memorised. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do any preparation. It’s important to get your thought-process right and that starts by thinking about some of the questions that an interviewer might ask.
You should start off this process by thinking about what your strengths actually are. Are you good at building relationships with people? Do you have very good drafting skills? Think about strengths that are linked to the job that you are applying for. If you are going to work in a law firm, think about what makes a good lawyer.
Are there any examples of strengths-based questions?
There are lots of questions that an interviewer can ask when trying to assess your strengths, but here are a few examples:
- What are you good at doing?
- What subjects at university did you find particularly easy to grasp?
- What motivates you?
- What extracurricular activities do you enjoy doing?
- What part of your current job do you least enjoy?
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