Upcoming Interview? Nail it with Your Key Strengths

Upcoming Interview? Nail it with Your Key StrengthsWait, I’ve got strengths?

Absolutely – even though you may pretty much have taken them for granted all of your life. Because it’s human nature to dismiss the gifts that come naturally to us, you tend not to recognize that, indeed, you do have natural strengths that not only are pretty terrific but they’re also always a part of who you are.

How to identify your strengths

Based on the Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment , the workplace strengths concept has been popularized through several books, such as First Break All the Rules (Buckingham and Coffman), Now Discover Your Strengths (Buckingham and Clifton), and Strengthsfinder 2.0 (Rath).

To identify your particular strengths, you take an assessment that then identifies which of the 34 “talent themes” define your personal strengths profile. (You can take the assessment for free if you purchase Strengthsfinder 2.0 and use the code at the back of the book, or go here for an inexpensive basic test.)

Examples of strengths include Activator, Communication, Deliberative, Focus, Ideation, Learner, Maximizer, Positivity, and Significance – as you can see from this small sample, a very broad and diverse spectrum of strengths. One isn’t necessarily better than another, because every workplace needs people who can combine their variety of strengths for peak performance.

Know your strengths to build your career

Knowing the inherent strengths you bring to any job can give you a huge edge when it comes to building your best career.

First, it lets you know where you’re likely to excel, that is, in what types of jobs and job environments. Once in that job environment, you can focus your energy and efforts on improving your strengths to a point of excellence rather than wasting them on trying to improve what you’re never likely to be very good at no matter how hard you try.

Second, knowing your strengths helps you make better decisions about your career, particularly when it comes to choosing the direction in which you’ll be happiest growing your skills, knowledge, and opportunities. If you’re going to be at it for (most likely) decades, wouldn’t you rather your work and career reflect the best of you?

Third, knowing your strengths and non-strengths can help you understand why some jobs have been terrific, others simply awful, for you. (It also sort of lets you off the hook for those times in your career where you weren’t, perhaps, bringing your best stuff, as well as explaining that boss who had no idea how to motivate you!) It’s likely you and the job were an unfortunate “square peg in a round hole” match-up. Now you’ll be able to avoid those.

Use your strengths to ace your interview

Equally valuable, now you can finally answer that “what are your strengths” question truthfully and clearly, tailoring your personal strengths to the requirements of the job. You won’t actually name your specific strengths label, but instead you’ll describe how one of your particular strengths will add value on the job. For example, if one of your strengths is “arranger,” you’ll be great at coordinating many tasks, people, and resources to achieve a given goal. So when you describe this strength in an interview, you’ll note that you love and are great at “coordinating people and resources to make sure we meet the goal we’ve set,” and then give examples of when you’ve done this, if possible.

In addition, you can use your self-knowledge to shape the questions you ask the interviewer. Try to determine how much of a specific job’s activities line up with your strengths, how many with your non-strengths. This will give you a great sense of whether it’s likely to be a great fit or one of those square peg/round holes disasters – at which point you can congratulate yourself for having the smarts to dodge it!


Are you interested in finding a rewarding and lucrative healthcare career that fits your individual strengths and interests? Find out how education can help you adapt to the changing healthcare landscape. American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of healthcare management degrees, including an MBA Healthcare and Master of Science Business Intelligence and Analytics. This article was brought to you by American Sentinel’s career coach, Kim Dority – be sure to check out her other articles for more tips.