Everywhere you look these days, you can find articles sharing why focusing on your strengths is more valuable than improving your weaknesses. Using your signature strengths in your role means you can be energized instead of drained, engaged instead of bored, and successful instead of struggling.
When it comes down to it, working in your strengths can completely transform your work day, your career, and your entire life!
But once you recognize this fact and identify your unique strengths, you may hit a roadblock. How do you actually land a career that allows you to utilize the strengths that will make you happy and help you flourish?
“I’M THE PERFECT FIT FOR THIS JOB!”
I remember the days before I started Happen To Your Career when I’d look through job postings for new opportunities. Every once in a while, I’d stumble across a description that left me internally exclaiming:
“They need me! It’s like they wrote this description based on my exact desires and strengths! I’m a shoe-in!”
Can you relate? Maybe you’ve had one or many moments where you felt as though you were the PERFECT fit for a job opening. But then there’s a problem…how do you get the employer to see you’re the perfect fit? What do you say and do to show that you are the answer to their needs?
Being the perfect fit and helping an interviewer perceive you as the perfect fit are two very different things. Many interviewers won’t directly ask you to list your strengths and even if they do, your answer may not stand out from everyone else’s. Before your next interview, you must figure out your strategy for showing potential employers who you are and how your strengths will bring value to the organization.
SERVE UP YOUR STRENGTHS ON A SILVER PLATTER
Whether you hop on the phone for a quick HR screening or sit down face-to-face with your potential boss, you want to finish every interview knowing you’ve communicated why you are a good fit for the role. (Side note: If you don’t believe you are a good fit—meaning your signature strengths don’t align with the company and role—you probably won’t be happy even if you get the offer!) Helping an interviewer perceive you as a good fit involves revealing and reinforcing your signature strengths throughout your time together. This can be accomplished through three main tactics:
1. SAY WHAT YOU LOVE
Have you ever noticed that when you say you love doing something, people assume you are good at that thing?
For instance, if someone says they love to ice skate, it’s a natural tendency to assume they are gifted at ice skating. You don’t picture someone who loves ice skating flailing their arms about until they bust their ass on the cold ice. No, you picture someone gliding smoothly along the surface, balanced and experienced.
It’s the same thing with strengths. If you say, “I love to connect with customers in a way that allows me to identify issues and create custom solutions,” your interviewer will automatically believe you are gifted at that particular skill. Unintentionally and subconsciously, they will assign positive traits associated with problem-solving and communication to you.
2. SHARE YOUR STORY
Don’t stop with saying what you love or hammering off a bulleted list of your strengths. Instead, prepare to share a story that reinforces each strength. You can identify and practice telling these stories to your friend or spouse before you begin your interviews to make sure you are clearly articulating your abilities through your story.
For example, using the strength identified above, you might say, “Let me tell you about a time I developed a creative solution that transformed an angry customer into one of our biggest fans. The angry customer, Bill, had requested customizations to his sales platform and the web team failed to notify him that customizations take up to six months for completion. I called Bill, asked him to explain his business to me, and discussed the why behind his specific needs. As Bill talked, I realized his business needs were parallel with a client we had partnered with the previous spring. Bill’s requests were different, but his purpose was the same. I explained to Bill that his requests would take more time to build, but if he was okay with utilizing a previously built interface, we could refund his customization fee and copy over the code and update his platform to work how he needed within one week. Bill was thrilled! After the changes were complete, he posted on social media that he’d be one of our customers for life. The solution I created not only removed his anger but made him one of our best and most loyal customers.”
This story helps your interviewers see your strengths in action, and they are more likely to remember an anecdote than a simple claim about what you can do.
3. STEP INTO YOUR NEW CONTEXT
Once you’ve shared what you love to do and shown how you’ve used your strengths in the past, paint a picture of your strengths at work in your potential new company. This will move your interviewers from just admiring your strengths to actually imagining you in the role.
Let’s say you’re interviewing for a role as a process improvement specialist for a medical center. Sticking with the story from above, here’s what this step might look like:
“In the same way that I effectively communicated and created a unique solution that transformed Bill from an upset customer to our biggest fan, I could quickly build rapport with the nurses, doctors, and administrators. I know you mentioned it can be difficult to get cooperation from these people, so I would use the same strengths that I used to help Bill see he could trust me. Once they began to share the issues they encountered on a daily basis, I could develop budget-friendly alternatives that cut non-value-added measures and capitalize on current resources. Viewing the medical team as my customer, I would solve specific problems in a way that meets business goals and leaves the direct care team happy.”
Preparing these answers before your interview gives you more control over your interviewers’ perception of who you are. Once you’ve defined what you love to do, shared your story of utilizing your strengths, and painted a picture of how you fit into their specific context, it will be almost impossible for them to forget you.
On our latest podcast episode, we share a live coaching call with Bree Hunter, an Aussie looking to move from her reactive and draining job to one that values her proactive, future-oriented strengths. Our call will give you an idea of what it’s like to work with one of our career coaches, plus give you a greater understanding of how to show your strengths and what to do with your weaknesses. Click the play button below to listen now!
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