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Career Champion Series: Strength Based Interviews

18 December, 2017Nadim Choudhury
compressed interviewIn this month's instalment of my Career Champion series, I thought it best to give a real-life example of the particular types of question I receive from my students. Callum from Portsmouth emailed me for some advice about a lesser-known interview technique, the strength based interview. 

Callum: " I graduated from the BSc in Banking Practice and Management degree in 2015 and for the last three years have been working in retail banking as a graduate relationship manager for one of the leading high street banks.  While I enjoy my work I have realised that the opportunities to progress in my organisation are limited within my specific department.  Recently I have decided to look for opportunities elsewhere and would like to change careers and focus on private wealth management. I’ve been lucky enough to progress through to the interview stage for a private banking role with a leading investment management firm. I’ve been informed that this interview will be strength based in its focus. While I have experienced competency based interviews before I’ve never undertaken a strength based interview and am unsure of what to expect. How do these work? and what is the best way to prepare for them?  I would greatly appreciate your advice.."


Nadim: "Thank you for your email! You are right, competency based interviews have been the preferred choice for most graduate programmes as they are usually a good indicator for highlighting suitability for a specific role. However, many of the banks are now using the strength based approach when interviewing potential candidates as this approach is particularly useful when recruiting individuals who don't have a lot of work experience.  Companies prefer this as it has been proven for figuring out a candidates motivations and highlights examples of where a candidate is at their best.

From an employers perspective, strength based interviews help assess a candidates ‘fit’ for the company and also identifies what interviewee is naturally good at.

suit arm manThe interviewer is looking for passion and positivity when providing answers and will examine how much you know about a specific subject or  topic. They will also observe your body language and may also ask you to further elaborate on your skills that you believe  are your strengths. 

Unfortunately there is no one specific way to prepare for these types of interviews, but the following tips may help:

  1. Make a list of what you love doing in your spare time, hobbies or tasks that energise you, why do you enjoy these activities? Be prepared to dig a little deeper in your answers.
  2. Relax – unlike competency  based interviews, strength based interviews generally allow for a natural style of conversation between the interviewer and candidate, remember they want to know when you perform at your best and are not there to trip you up.
  3. Be prepared  for as many as 30 questions during the hour long interview.
  4. Be prepared to answer the  ‘what is your weakness question’ as these usually feature in strength based interviews, pick something that you can highlight as something you can easily work on to fix!

Like other types of interviews, it is important for your to give real examples from your work, personal, educational, and hobbies and interest that illustrate your responses. 

In the careers and employability team, we can support our students by providing mock interview sessions in person or via Skype. If you would like to practice strength based interviews, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team by emailing career@edu.libf.ac.uk. Good luck with the interview."


Make sure to read Nadim's other articles from the Career Champion series for unique and valuable advice for any level of profession: 

- First 90 days in a new job
- Captivate the reader with the perfect cover letter
- Becoming a Non-Executive Director

For any questions about career progression, do please get in touch with Nadim.