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Using STRENGTHS During Interviews

Today's post is written by ECS Graduate Advisor Jillian Baer, who advises intern, co-op, and full-time employment seeking students.

A job interview can be a very stressful experience.  However, by taking the opportunity to develop and rehearse your responses to frequently asked interview questions, you can eliminate much of that stress and perform more successfully in an interview.  One way to prepare answers for an interview is by focusing on your strengths.  If you have completed the StrengthsQuest assessment previously, focusing on your 5 Signature Themes is a great place to start.  If you have not done the assessment, simply being aware of your accomplishments and talents is a great way to ace that interview.

Start by listing three of the most meaningful and important jobs, leadership roles, or volunteer positions you have held.  For each item listed, identify five responsibilities or outcomes that you achieved in those roles.  Then, for each outcome, write what talents or strengths (or one of your Signature Themes) that you utilized to help you succeed in achieving the written outcome.  This is a GREAT way to better understand how your individual strengths relate to your successes in the past.  By being able to draw from these experiences during an interview and highlight your strengths and abilities in these moments, you will come off polished, prepared, and professional.

Once you have this list of strengths and talents that you bring to the table, think of how these will apply to commonly asked interview questions.  Questions that a lot of students face include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What are your greatest weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Take a few moments and consider the strengths and talents you came up with in the previous activity.  Keeping those talents (or Signature Themes) in mind, how would you respond to each of the questions above? 

These exercises will help you prepare for all sorts of interview situations by providing you with the opportunity to create answers to frequently asked questions.  I encourage you to rehearse your answers using this technique and even write down possible answers you come up with while attempting to incorporate your greatest strengths and talents into the conversation.  Preparation is the key to success and being able to accurately discuss what you are good at is the first step in the process.

“There are three things that are extremely hard – steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”

– Benjamin Franklin