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Let's Talk about Strengths in the Job Interview

This post provides you a summary of the Called to Coach webcast from Gallup entitled "How to Best Talk About Your Strengths in an Interview". To watch the webcast, you can visit this link.

Here are some practical advice that Dr. Tim Hodges, Executive Director of the CliftonStrengths Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, that will help you understand how to incorporate your Top 5 CliftonStrengths themes of talents into your resume and how to navigate the job interview.

1. Include your Top 5 CliftonStrengths themes in your resume.

Dr. Hodges shared to include your Top 5 CliftonStrengths themes in your resume. Even the hiring manager is not familiar with the CliftonStrengths terminology, these are the words that are positive. He thinks that it is a good way for people to see something that's right about you.

In your opening statement or during your interview, Dr. Hodges suggested to talk about what these themes meant.

But where should you put it in your resume? Dr. Hodges preferred to put it closer to the top. If it is a multi-page resume, he suggested to put it either in the footer or in the header.

2. Improve your ability to talk about your Top 5 in your own words.

Dr. Hodges thinks it is really important for you personally to understand what these mean and to talk about them in your own words. This gives you confidence in talking about your Top 5 as you can relate to them based on your own words.

To get started with it, read the Gallup insight report, highlight those words that resonate to you, get familiar with it and create your strengths story - in your own words. Dr. Hodges said, "It should be a conversation, not a regurgitation. So I think it's good to own it and then say what it means to you."

It is also best to share and discuss these Top 5 with other people. As Don Clifton said, "Development happens best in response to another person."

3. Get to know the role.

Dr. Hodges shared that the best thing to bring these in the interview/conversation is to get to know the role. Perform research of the role, ask somebody familiar with the company and possibly the role as well. Get familiar with the company's culture, too.

Dr. Hodges further added for you to think about how to apply your themes of talents in the context of what they're probably looking for. "Be authentic, be real, but be relevant, too", he said.

4. Better to have three or four great questions to ask the Hiring Manager.

Dr. Hodges advised not to get into transactional stuff - like how many days you need to be in the office - as it might be a pretty quick turnoff to the Hiring Manager. Start to ask something about that manager - "What's the best employee you have like?" "Give me an example of what success looks like in the role". Those transactional stuff you might ask on an email later on.

5. Practice with someone.

Have a conversation with someone to help you prepare for the interview. It is great if you can hire a coach and get ready for the interview process.


What if you are the Hiring Manager or the interviewer, how are you going to approach the applicant's Top 5? Here are further advice that Dr. Hodges shared:

1. Be curious.

Be curious on how the applicant might use his/her themes of talents in the role. But don't focus on how the applicant react at their worst. Rather, create an interview process that puts people at ease when they're at their best.

2. Don't use CliftonStrengths as basis to hire people.

Dr. Hodges stated, "And I would say that it's a very poor, it's a poor decision, if you're trying to hire somebody based on them having a specific theme." He added that CliftonStrengths is not validated as a selection tool. It is not the purpose of it. It's about development. The second reason he mentioned is that it's almost impossible to find someone who is going to have the themes that you're looking for.

3. Use the information to ask better questions and to dig in a little bit deeper and to communicate about.

"So if you can do, if you're a Hiring Manager, ask -- and you know what your applicant's theme are - ask them questions that help them draw out their own themes. Don't, don't just push your own, don't push your themes as the manager on them. I think it's more fruitful to draw them out." - Dr. Hodges

4. Keep the applicants warm throughout the process.

For Hiring Managers, Dr. Hodges advised, "recruit all the way through the finish line, and then, and then it becomes a retention; it just parlays itself right into retention."


Get more ideas and complete view of this topic through this webcast in Gallup's website.

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