267: 3 Creative and Strategic Ways to Show Your Strengths to Interviewers


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 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.


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:


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.


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.


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!

Bree Hunter 00:03
And I think that's what I really enjoyed about the role I'm interview for, is I was so energized by it, you know, I'm planning something positive for the community to utilize in the future. And that was really the interesting.

Introduction 00:20
This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:44
Every single week, we get a subtle really similar question again and again, and one of those questions in particular is, how do I use my strengths to get hired? Well, it turns out that this isn't necessarily an easy answer and it’s an extended answer because it starts with, you have to really understand your strengths in depth. And we realize that many people all over the world, well, we think we understand our strengths and even as we have worked with people that are really highly self aware, we know that we can get much more granular, much deeper level to get nearly anybody better understanding of their strengths. And when we do that, then that gives you some really powerful information to start with. But then more importantly than that is, when you understand how to apply your strengths that can completely change the world in a lot of different way, starting with more confidence in you know one or more particular areas and ranging to feeling of higher happiness, because we know from some really great work that Gallup has done and several other organizations that, when you spend even as little as one to two more hours per day with working or spending time utilizing your strengths, then that is associated with things like higher productivity, higher feeling of happiness and many other really great things. But that's not what this is all about. What this is about is to be able to really understand how to utilize your strength to get hired. We first have to understand your strengths, only then, can we start applying it to whatever it is that you want to accomplish. So we had been experimenting with how do we actually help people understand the power of this for quite a while and we were entirely sure to be quite frank with you and then we realized well, let's show them. Let them listen to a conversation where someone is actually discovering their strengths and they go and put those to use immediately. So that's what we're going to do. In fact, you're going to get to be a fly on the wall. In actual coaching conversation, and this is with Bree Hunter. Bree Hunter, lives in Tasmania, Australia, and she had been in a role that was pretty great role but no longer really fit in what she wanted and especially going forward in the future. And it was really trying to understand how she's leverage for strengths and understand her strengths in a way to make sure that she's going after what she really wants and feels more happy more often and through this conversation, I want you to pay attention to it and listen to how we get to a much deeper level and then as it goes on, listen for how we actually utilize that in a way that she can benefit from it immediately, starting with some interviews, that she has coming up. Okay. There's so much built into this one single conversation and I want you to take a listen so watch for all those pieces and so much more, here's my conversation and coaching session you could get to fly on the wall with Bree.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:22
Bree it’s Scott from Happen To Your Career. How are you doing?

Bree Hunter 04:25
Hi Scott, how are you?

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:28
I am doing a really, really well. It's been a good couple of months actually. How's it going on your...

Bree Hunter 04:35
Oh, that excites. Pretty good. Got a job interview later today.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:41
I saw that.

Bree Hunter 04:41
Yeah, and just the last several months really been doing a bit of soul searching and came across your website and your podcasts. And that's been really helpful amongst a few other tools I've pulled together. So yeah, I really enjoyed the StrengthsFinder test. I found that really useful to sort of pull a few things together and things that you're kind of already feeling but haven't really been able to articulate or put into some sort of framework.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:11
Yeah. Very cool. And if I have this up here correctly, it looks like your strengths themes from StrengthsFinder where, Learner, Harmony, Restorative, Positivity and Individualization. Does that sound right?

Bree Hunter 05:26
That's right. Yep.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:27
Very cool. So then the other thing that I saw from the email that you sent a little bit earlier today, or let's see here, was that you're hoping to get a little bit better understanding of how you can actually leverage these. So now that you have the ability to articulate them a little bit differently, how do you actually use these things. And then it sounds like currently, you are... well, I mean, obviously, you got another job interview coming up here. But your past role or current role feels like it is not the right fit for several reasons. And you talked about workplace culture. And did you use the term busy work? Is that what it was?

Bree Hunter 06:10
I did. Yeah.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:12

Bree Hunter 06:14
Okay. So I've been in this role for two and a half years now. And before that I was still sort of connected to this role, and I loved it for a period of time. And it's just, I've changed and grown, I guess. So it's time to take on a new challenge. And I was acting in the role I'm applying for, although I'm interviewing for later today. And that's where I found it really energized me of the things that I was doing. And then having done the StrengthsFinder, it just backed up why those particular functions were energizing me.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:52
What were some of those functions?

Bree Hunter 06:54
Working with the community. So it was project managing the planning phase of new projects, and I was working on new mountain bike tracks. So I got to do all the community consultation, and the planning around that. And I really enjoyed getting feedback from the community and advocating for what they wanted. And also, you know, within, I work for city council, pulling people together within council to get the project going, like I don't hold... claim to hold the expertise. I really rely on other people's expertise and getting the right people together to make something happen and just sort of facilitating that process.

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:38
Okay. All right, that makes sense then. So, let me ask you a few questions then. And then I think I can help with a few of these things. First of all...

Bree Hunter 07:51

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:51
Quick, just clarifying question, the role that you're interviewing for, is that in the same organization or is that a different organization?

Bree Hunter 07:59
It's the same organization. But it's, at the moment, I'm in operations at like a Depo sort of setting. And that role would be in the town office, away from operations.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:14
Okay, very good. So let's see if we can leave a little bit of time in terms of working up to how you talk about strengths and interview because it's different than how most people would think. Very often, they find that many of us perceive that we're going to need to talk about them extensively, and use like the right word, so that it perfectly matches up to our strengths and everything. And I find that there's much easier, much more organic ways to be able to leverage your strengths in your interview. So let's see if we can leave a few minutes to talk about that towards the end. And then in the meantime, let's see if we can get to the bottom of some of these strengths and even understand them a little bit deeper so that we can figure out how to answer some of the other questions in terms of what is right for you. Is that fair?

Bree Hunter 09:03
Excellent. Okay.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:06
Cool. So along those lines then, you said it sounded like a lot of these when you read them do line up, are there any in particular that you find don't match up for one reason or another? I guess that's question number one.

Bree Hunter 09:23
No, I think they all line up. Yeah.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:28
Okay, great. What about then, out of these five that you have on this list, are there any that resonate with you more so than the others?

Bree Hunter 09:38
I would say, Learner, Restorative and Individualization.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:48
Okay, so tell me about each one of those. Let's start with Individualization. So what about that really feels like, yeah, this is clearly high resonated or high priority.

Bree Hunter 10:03
Okay. It resonates because in my job, I manage a team of people. And I really enjoy leading people and I like resolving conflicts, I like carrying people together, that you might not think through each other, but I can see they've got particular strengths or weaknesses that counterbalance one another. And a lot of that comes from my own experience working in small teams. What else? I think everyone's unique. I enjoy learning from other people's experiences, and learning from that. And at the same time, I really enjoy having responsibility that I sort of have control for the end product and making sure that things are completed.

Scott Anthony Barlow 10:56
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. Those are all... those things, particularly, I think that everyone is unique. Those are things that somebody who can't help but individualize would say, that's very individualistic of you, Bree. So what about the other two? I want to just understand this a little bit more, and then I've got a few questions that I want to help take us a little bit deeper on these.

Bree Hunter 11:25
Okay, as far as the Learner, I'm just sort of skimming what it says makes you stand out. I love learning, but as it's in there, which I thought was interesting, I actually enjoy the process of learning. Like, I might not retain all the information, but I love the activity of it. And particular things I'm interested in, like for the last probably 18 months I've really been interested in leadership and management, and learning tools and ways to grow in that space. But I particularly like to learn about myself and how to improve myself and then helping other people improve themselves as well.

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:06
Where have you seen that, really, what's an example of where you've seen that really recently that like, "if only I could do more of that"?

Bree Hunter 12:16
Funny because I've also been listening to a video coaching series. I find my favorite part of the day is not busy working, getting things done, but it's the interactions that I have with people. And I can easily stop and spend a fair bit of time just learning about them and learning from them and seeing where they're at. So somewhat taking conversations off track of work, and really finding more about who they are and learning from their experiences, and also asking them sort of questions that might point out things that they hadn't thought of before I realized. And it's a shame that I can't. I'm very aware and trying to be time efficient with what I do. So I only have so much time that I can take out to have those conversations.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:07
That's super interesting then. One that you have already recognized that. But two, by the way, I totally forgot for a minute that we've emailed the back and forth that during the career coach series and now I recall that, now that you said that, but I just remembered that we had...

Bree Hunter 13:23
That's okay. I don't expect you to remember.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:26
Well, it's kind of a weird thing. I remember people's names and email addresses a lot, because that's what I see the most. But I knew that we've interacted, and I remember that email exchanges, I just didn't remember what it was about, necessarily. But I think that one of the things that, as coaches, that we look for, just to give you a glimpse behind the scenes, we're looking for, where are the anomalies. And one of the places that we find anomalies a lot of the time is where are those places within your current work that you keep gravitating towards, but don't necessarily have enough time for and it feels like you're perpetually don't have enough time for. So that's in my mind, as you say that, that's one of the things I hone in on and want to know more because that is likely where we're finding those anomalies, you know, from the, as I'm explaining what I'm doing for coaching, I guess, at the same time here. So tell me more about that then, where do you find out of those types of interactions, that you are adding value to someone else's world too. Where you're getting either feedback, or thank you, sort of things like that with those types of interactions, where you get to learn about them and ask them questions, as you said, but you're sort of taking conversations off track, and it's not a normal part of your job, per se.

Bree Hunter 14:46
I guess, sort of more the coaching style, talked a lot about in management courses these days.

Scott Anthony Barlow 14:54

Bree Hunter 14:54
Pulling more information out and asking them like, you're doing to me, the questions that they might have in the back of their mind, but haven't had to answer before, and helping clarify things for them. And I don't get to, like I often deal with members of the public, and so I don't always get to do that with them, because I might be trying to negotiate a particular issue or something that they're not happy with. So I often use this strength of mine to build a rapport with them quickly, to let them know that I understand their issues. And I also realized that often people just want to voice their opinion, get something off their chest. So I guess I sort of use coaching techniques in that space...

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:38
Give me an example of that. Because it sounds like you're thinking a few different times. What's a recent example where you've done that?

Bree Hunter 15:45
I manage fire in reserves and managing and mitigating fire, which is in the urban interface. So often we're cutting down trees, or slashing vegetation, next to people's houses. So they get upset. So I go out and say, you know, this is what's happening. And we have to... they might be planting trees on council land, and we need to remove them. So giving them you know, I mentioned how long have you lived here, sort of getting a picture of their connection to the property, then explaining the changes in our policy and why now all of a sudden, we have to remove the vegetation, saying that, you know, I completely understand if I was... if this was happening next to my home. But then coming back to the facts of why it's really important that we need to do this. So I guess a bit of education, which often the public are aware of, you know, the facts as to why we're doing particular things. And I guess just coming to an agreement and getting them to see my point of view, as well as the land manager. And, you know, there's liability issues. And it's concerning for us. And I'm faced to deal with this situation. I don't want to have to do it, but it's for their own safety.

Scott Anthony Barlow 17:04
So this is super interesting, that one set of examples, use it every single one of the strength themes. So if we break this apart for just a second here, and we look at that example where you've got to go talk to, it sounds like you know a property owner or somebody who is, you know, utilizing a piece of property or whatever else it is, and you know, they're planting trees or whatever else is going on, you having that conversation. First of all, you're asking the types of questions other people don't ask. And I think that partially it comes from your desire to learn. But I think that also comes from maybe even moreso your tendency to want to individualize and really understand kind of the uniqueness. And then what has a tendency to happen is, it sounds like you are leveraging that information that you accumulate through your desire to learn and your tendency to individualize. And then you also have this desire in some ways, or you can't help but do it, even if desire is the wrong word, to have a higher degree of ability to bring things back together for harmony. And interestingly enough, like I can, probably anybody can tell within 10 minutes of talking to you that you're generally a positive person. So I can see a lot of the positivity pieces, we call the positivity and a few other strengths, we call them umbrella strengths, because they have a tendency to just sort of go over the top of whatever else that you're doing, and you can't... it has a tendency to be difficult to separate it out. Whether you want to or not, it's just going to kind of be there working, amplifying other things in the background. But does that make sense how that one example that you gave me really is actually pulling from all five of these different areas, it's not really just any one or two of these?

Bree Hunter 19:04
Oh, yeah, no, that's really interesting. It was good to go through that exercise.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:09
Have you ever thought about it in that way before?

Bree Hunter 19:12
No, I haven't. And that really makes it quite clear now, that's great.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:17
What is clear to you now versus before?

Bree Hunter 19:21
I guess, stepping through the process that I have when I speak to landowners about these issues. And again, giving it that framework, which I often have trouble articulating, the highlights, each one of those steps picks up one of those strengths. And so I'm really just stepping through those strengths and bringing it all together at the end to create a positive, harmonious outcome.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:50
What is... what you'll find, or at least I think you'll find based on my experience in working with other people that have similar strengths to yours, or this type of strengths combination, is that you'll probably flourish in areas where you get to be proactive, versus reactive. And here's what I mean by that. And there's a couple other words we could use to describe it maybe even better. When you are faced with a continuous sort of problems that are coming from a negative standpoint, and that's... if that's all you're doing all day, that's gonna feel really, really draining on you, because both your restorative nature and your harmony nature, going to want to pull it back to harmony or want to restore those situations. And if that's what you're doing all day long, where you are perpetually out of harmony, then that is going to... it's going to feel really, really like it takes a lot of energy. And it's going to feel very, very well, I think draining is the right word.

Bree Hunter 20:59
I think that explains it perfectly. And that's why I struggle in my current role, because it's all very reactive and it is draining. I don't get that time to be strategic or positive, pushing things forward in a positive light. And I think that's what I really enjoyed about the role I'm interviewing for, is I was so energized by you know, I'm planning something positive for the community to utilize in the future. And that was really energizing.

Scott Anthony Barlow 21:29
Yeah. So I think, just to give you a little bit of validation that the more that you can align yourself with those types of roles, and organizations that are putting you in that more proactive standpoint, where you get to proactive and productive standpoint, or you get to work more on, "Hey, this is already good. But we need to make this even better" or "We need to take the situation, which is generally more on the positive side. And we need to move this agenda forward." Those are going to be better fit, better alignment for what you need and better play to your strengths. So I think one thing that if you haven't already, you know, got it written down someplace capturing that you definitely need to be on more of the proactive side, or the more positive making it better side is going to be something that is a must within your next role. If you don't get to spend the majority of your time there, it's going to be... it's going to feel like it does now or worse.

Bree Hunter 22:30
Yeah, now that's a really good point. And that's what surprised me about the strength tests with the, I think it was Learner, I never had the confidence, I guess, or experience around strategic planning. And I thought it was something that, you know, I wasn't going to be very good at. But I think this is where that comes through. It's strategic being strategic is just focusing on those things to improve, which is often in my current role, I get frustrated, because I see all these things there that I want to improve. And but I just don't get the time. It's not the focus of the job. And that for I often feel like I'm not achieving things, or I'm letting the team down because I'm not able to improve those things.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:15
Yes. So it feels almost like you're perpetually losing in some ways.

Bree Hunter 23:21
Yes. Even though others don't say that or think that, feedback. I really internalized that. Yeah. Cool.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:31
So I think that there's probably areas where we could dive much further, but I wanted to save a little bit of time. So we could talk about how to leverage some of these things in the interview, but I think that the more that you can ask yourself, those types of situations like, in my past roles where have I found those small tidbits that I am gravitating towards? Or where have I found the small tidbits of enjoyment, or the things that I'm particularly great at? And then break those apart and see which strengths are kind of coordinated with that, then you'll be get to get... you'll begin to get more answers about what really is going to be right for you within that next role too. Whether it's the one you're interviewing for or another one.

Bree Hunter 24:15
Okay. Yeah, that's good advice.

Scott Anthony Barlow 24:18
So when you think of interviewing then, to shift gears on now, when you find you're having the most struggle in thinking about this idea of communicating your strengths, or getting across your strengths in interview, and what is... helped me understand the desire there first.

Bree Hunter 24:36
I don't know if they'll actually or they're not likely to ask the question of, what do you feel your strengths are. Because the company base questions to I've got to be really conscious of knowing my strengths and throwing them into examples that I answer in the interview. So if it's problem solving question, then talking them through the example. But being conscious of where you particularly highlight and say, because one of my strengths is such and such and such, I'm clearly, I have a ability to do this very well. And this is where that came through. I guess it's more in relation to that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:20
I have a couple... if that's the case, then I have a couple ideas for you, in terms of things that I can teach you fairly quickly, that might be really useful to you immediately, this afternoon. To give you a little bit of context, typically, when we're teaching things for interviewing, and something that has lots of different variables, usually we're taking like four hours to teach that like, for example, in career change bootcamp, or going through and doing much more prep or anything else. But let me see if I can break this down into a way that can be useful to you immediately. One of the things that I find is that when you communicate, that I enjoy, or I love something, people automatically assume that you are good at it. That's our tendency and a bit of our human nature. So they don't necessarily always think about it in those terms. But that's the association they get along with it or the feeling that they get as well. They don't necessarily in their brain say, "Well, she loves that. So she must be good at that." That's not how the self talk works necessarily. But that is one of the things that we find over lots of years of testing this stuff out, and knowing some of the psychology behind it, too. So knowing that, you can leverage that immediately in your next interview. So if they ask, you know, what... you were talking about, like a problem solving question, right? So what... you probably know a little bit about since you work there, too, like with the types of questions, is that going to be like a behavioral style question, where they say, "Tell me about a time when you had to solve a problem." Or are they going to say, "Hey, if you have to solve this problem, what are you going to do in this situation?" Which do you think more of those might show up?

Bree Hunter 27:14
The behaviorial. Yeah, so you give an example and talk yourself through the task scenario.

Scott Anthony Barlow 27:20
Okay, perfect. So if that's the case, and they say, "Hey, tell me about a time where you had to solve a problem that popped up on short notice and you were successful with it at the end?" So just that type of question. So instead of saying, "One of my strengths is problem solving." A different way that you can go about that is be able to say, "Well, let me tell you about the time in my last role, where I had this particular problem. And I gotta tell you that one of my favorite things about this piece of my previous role was, A B and C." In this case, it might be, you know, getting to interact with people in a way that I got to understand their problem. And I got to understand really what they need, and then pieced together a solution that was really individualized to them. And I found that every single time I got the opportunity to do that, they were actually pretty happy. Like it, we went from a situation where they were, quite frankly, not excited at the beginning." And you'll want to use specific, you know, specific times or specific examples, you know, "I was talking to Bob, about the tree. And Bob was telling me that, you know, really, after I asked the question, like, hey, what... how long have you lived here? When did you plant the tree? And he was telling me all have this situation. And I learned that Bob didn't realize that he couldn't plant the tree there. And if I would have..." I'm just making this up on the fly. "But if I would have gone down the road a little bit further, and just started telling Bob that he would not, like that he can't plant the tree there, without asking all of this to try and understand, then it would have been a terrible situation. And quite frankly, Bob was already irritated that I probably would have made him further irritated. But I love that opportunity to be able to understand what's important to people and where they're coming from. And every single time I look at that as an opportunity to be able to learn more about them and then figure out how we can get what we both need. And after I asked Bob, what that was, you know, we were able to talk about it, and we figured out a solution. And he was actually going to move the tree back five feet. And that worked out really, really well in the end. But I find, every time I get the opportunity to have those types of interactions with people, and take a situation that would otherwise be bad, and really recognize where they're coming from, that those are the things that I do very, very well, but also they're the times where I enjoy it the most. So one of the reasons that I'm excited about this particular role is because I perceived that I get to do more of that." Does that make sense in terms of good example for how to go through that, but then you relate it to the needs of the other role. And then you also relate it to your particular strengths. Not saying that these are my strengths, but these are the things that I enjoy the most. And here's how I'm actually using them.

Bree Hunter 30:32
Yep. Now, that was really good. And I was actually able to, while you were speaking, think about how I actually using my strengths. I find the... where the needs of landowners and the council pros and finally compromise that suits us both. I think I'll leverage that. Yeah.

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:56
That is, that is fantastic. So that's one very easily transferable way to talk about your strengths and give people the impression of what your strengths are, but also, at the same time, being able to relate it into their world, because you're like literally showing them like, "Hey, here's the element that I perceive is going to be helpful to you." And putting that as a portion of your answer too. So that you're spelling it out for them. But at the same time, you're not tooting your own horn in a way that feels false.

Bree Hunter 31:30
Yep. Good advice, Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:32
Well, I'm glad that it is helpful. How else can I be helpful to you?

Bree Hunter 31:38
I guess how... I feel we sort of touched on a little bit. Yeah, in my current role, I feel like I've been battling with just trying to improve my weaknesses. And I guess that's what I found really awakening with doing the StrengthsFinder is, no, these are actually strengths, which can be perceived as weaknesses in your current role. And I guess that's where, you know, that's your whole thing is that your values or your strengths don't align with what you're doing. But how do you balance using and harnessing your strengths? But also, you've got weaknesses and you're going to have to utilize your weaknesses, time to time like, how much do you focus on improving those weaknesses?

Scott Anthony Barlow 32:25
There's a couple of different lenses that we look at this through. So in our career change bootcamp program, one of the things that we teach pretty extensively is the concept of the shadow side to your strengths, or we call them "anti strengths." So that is not your weaknesses so much, but negative things that are caused by your strengths. So just really quick example of that, like a really basic example, like I am ridiculously future focused, very futuristic like that as a thing that I cannot help. One of the things that, that has a tendency to be a huge challenge with, is anytime I need to focus on like small details in the past, like I just, I cannot comprehend, I cannot use them. I also am very much of a big picture thinker to go right along with that, and I may... I see the forest, not the trees. So, I guess, tons and tons of details. So, as you might imagine, that gets really, really hairy in a lot of different areas. And, you know, things like reviewing contracts, when they used to work in HR, or reviewing policies and stuff like that. I got... at one point, put one of our organizations I worked with, into probably a potentially big liability situation, because I just don't even see that stuff, but I was responsible for it. So we have a tendency to look at it in terms of, what is the shadow side to your strengths. And one side of that is, how can you better align what you're doing and spending more your time on with you getting to operate inside of your strengths? Partially because it just feels a lot different and it feels better. And quite frankly, I think it's a better way to live. And there's just, doesn't solve all your problems. But it does feel differently in terms of even if you are challenged, like the stress feels different than... you know, stress feels different when you're working with your strengths compared to stress, when you are not consistently working with your strengths. So there's that side of it. But then there's the other side, where it just allows you to often be more successful within a given role. Because nobody is good at everything. So if you can align more of those pieces with those things that you're going to be more gifted at because of your strength, then it just gets a lot easier in some ways. Even if you're in a challenging role, so there's that alignment side. But then the other side is the skill side. So even if you do a lot of great work, finding an, you know, role and organization and all of those things that are very aligned with what you want, and your strengths, then there is still the skill side, the skill development side of other things that you might need. A really common version of that is being able to advocate for yourself or ask for what you want, within a work environment like that, that isn't related to strengths necessarily. I mean, it can be in some ways, but for the most part, like that's a skill that people can develop over time. But it directly impacts how you get to spend your time. You know, if I... in my latter career, when I used to work for other companies besides my own, I was much much better at saying, "Hey, I'm really interested in these particular projects, I think that these would be a great fit, here's why thousands of organization will benefit from them, here's I think I will benefit from them. And I would like to spend more of my time working on these projects." And then routinely having them say, "Yes" versus at the beginning of my career, and saying, "Hey, I think it'd be cool if I did this kinda, sort of..." and that felt really awkward. So you get the skill development side. But to answer your question directly, I think that the more time you can spend actually trying to align yourself with your strengths and trying to spend more of your time there, we find that that is going to take you further faster for nearly any goal that you have inside or outside of your career, whether it is other areas of life, whatever else, is just going to get you further faster. And we've got a lot of data and evidence to support that versus spending really any kind of time at all, focusing on bringing up your weaknesses. Unless it is to figure out how you're going to given some thought for how you're going to balance that out, in one way or another. Maybe that is... I'm great at this on the team. And there's this other person that is great at the other thing, so maybe we can share some of the workload or giving something of that kind of strategic thought or, in my case, I mean, I do a lot of that on our own individual team. Because quite frankly, I'm bad at a lot of things based on my strengths and that's okay. But that type of strategic thought is useful around that versus me spending tons and tons and tons of time focused on things that I will probably never be good at. And I don't want to confuse that the skills. So strengths are different than skills.

Bree Hunter 37:39
I guess that's what I've been utilizing in my own team probably the last 12 months is, you're recognizing what I'm not as good at which others are. And doing that same thing, delegating those tasks to those people who enjoy doing those things more, and they're better at it, which gives you time to focus more on the other things. And I guess one thing about this job I'm interviewing for to be a real shift, because I won't be managing a team, I'll only be working on my own projects, but again, pulling those other people in as experts to help. That might require me to utilize some of those shadows strikes a bit more, because I'm relying on myself to get it done.

Scott Anthony Barlow 38:26
Yeah, I see what you mean. So prior to, again, I think that's a great... the interview is a great opportunity to find out more about that. And maybe it turns out, it's really not a good fit. And that's okay, there's nothing wrong with that. But I think if I'm in your situation, I'd rather know, before accepting it versus after accepting it. But I think that it's a great opportunity to since you know some of those things about yourself to ask for the areas that are of the highest priority for you. And ask and that try and understand at a deeper level, versus a lot of interviews, if you don't ask, then it's going to gloss over it, because they don't necessarily know what's important to you.

Bree Hunter 39:10
Yeah. Okay. As far as just quickly, you know, thinking of other career options, which in line with my strengths, would something like, you know, because I'm interested in leadership and management skills and things, that kind of thing, or maybe HR would be interesting, or would not just be more the same kind of busy work or policy, trying to improve policy or develop policy. Do you think that would align with these particular strengths from what you've seen from yourself or from others?

Scott Anthony Barlow 39:43
I think situations in which you get to create an individualized experience for people, you're going to find those to be in a lot of situations more gratifying. Because it'll pull on some different pieces of your strengths. There's a lot of different types and ways that that could look not necessarily just one industry, but ranging from, on one extreme, that could be like user experience design for different types of software, something on another extreme, that could be like, developing live events for people. And then still another area, that could be like designing, training and learning programs for a particular organization or working internally, a lot of times it gets lumped into HR, but a lot of organizations call it like learning and development. They have a couple other names for it, too. But there's some quick areas where that could be a fit. There's also going to be some other variables in there in terms of, is it the type of organization that supports the type of learning that you have got the desire for? And does the individualization really actually matter to the firm, is that one thing that's valuable to them, as well, and not just to you, we don't want to make sure that there's not, an out of alignment piece there, too. And that really the same types of things that are valuable to them are those that they're going to reward you for, because when you have that be a fit, then it feels much better too and then you truly get to leverage some of those strengths versus being face value or should matter. So that's some really super quick ideas. But then, beyond that too, again, those situations where you get to focus on improving a situation, or moving something that's already good and making it better, I would say that you're probably going to find that you have, unless you are acting as a consultant type role, then if you have lots and lots of executables, or tasks that are all supposed to be delivered by you versus with a team, depending on what they are, you may find that draining as well, because all your strengths are people focused, as opposed to like task or work focused. Does that make sense?

Bree Hunter 42:12
Yeah, it does. And I guess this job I'm going for, it's about improving things for the community. And I would just have to accept that it's not for particular individuals, and you're not going to make everyone happy in the community. So some people might not like what you're doing, and whether I'd be comfortable with that or that just frustrate me long term.

Scott Anthony Barlow 42:36
Yeah, there'll be interesting, I definitely would say good opportunity for you to learn more about that and maybe even go out and talk to some of the community prior to, if they offer you the role. Or if you decide to even run the role or whatever, like, do that as a little bit of an experiment and try and feel out whether that is something that's empowering to you or frustrating to you about some of the issues that you would actually be working on. And that would be a good way to kind of validate that, "Hey, is this going to be a, lift me up type of thing or drag me down type of thing?"

Bree Hunter 43:09
Yeah. Cool. Now, that's really helpful. And even if it's just a stepping stone in a different job to develop other skills, or learn new skills to your time or something, take those skills and the whole package and try something else or might lead to something else more fulfilling.

Scott Anthony Barlow 43:31
Yeah, absolutely. Was that helpful?

Bree Hunter 43:35
That was... All of the Americans word, "Awesome."

Scott Anthony Barlow 43:37
That's awesome.

Bree Hunter 43:40
That was awesome.

Scott Anthony Barlow 43:43
All right. Fantastic. I'm glad it was awesome. And did we hit on all the areas that you wanted?

Bree Hunter 43:49
Yeah. Now, we certainly did. I know, I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to hit. But, know that was great. That was very helpful. So thank you, Scott. I appreciate your time and your busy schedule.

Scott Anthony Barlow 44:01
Absolutely. My pleasure. If there's any other way that we can help support you, then don't hesitate to let us know. And let me know what happens through this interview. I'm interested to find out, keep me posted.

Bree Hunter 44:14
Okay. I will. Thank you, Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 44:17
Yeah, I hope that gives you an idea of just how powerful these concepts can be, and how we can actually utilize a deeper understanding of your strengths, and what we call "Signature Strengths'', and actually begin putting them to work for us. And not just one area, but multiple areas of our life, the more that you can spend time working with your strengths rather than against it, the more that you're going to find that, you just have a higher quality of life all the way around. And even when you're working in things that are challenging for you, it's still going to allow it to feel completely differently. Okay, so, but it gets even better than what you just heard, because afterwards, I want you to understand what happened. Guess what, Bree sent me an email very, very shortly afterwards, and said, "Hey, Scott, I wanted you to know what came out of our last recent session here." And she'd said that, well, she got the job. Woohoo! She'd been offered the job. And not only that, but in this particular case, obviously, we recorded this session. And she had a copy of this session. And one of the things that she said that was really powerful for herself is that she'd had this fairly limiting belief. She said, "You see, I've actually never heard myself speak before. And I always believed that I wasn't able to articulate my thoughts very well. And I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I sounded way better than I expected. And this has helped me feel much more confident when speaking to my team and my other colleagues." And then she goes on to say, "Thank you." So this is far, far ranging. Really a deep understanding of your strengths and how it connects back to your reality can completely change not just your career, not just opportunities that are coming your way or that you're taking advantage of, but your entire lens that you look at life through. I hope this was really helpful to you. And if you want to hear more like this, let us know what you thought of the episode you can email, hello@happentoyourcareer.com and share any feedback or like I said, if you want to hear more episodes like this, we'd love to hear from you. And also, by the way, thank you so much. We've had even more people that have gone over to iTunes and Stitcher and other places where you can play podcast and left us ratings and review. This latest one comes from Kay Rose 55 says, "A hidden gem for any career changer or coach. I was so surprised at the high quality of this podcast is someone who has consumed quite a few different career advice, pods and articles, I'm used to having to squeeze out value from a bunch of fluffy bullet points, or upselling type of content. But with this podcast, the advice feels juicy, relevant and really intuitive all at once. Thank you." Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. And that helps other people be able to find the show, which means that we can then in turn get more people to work that they absolutely love and is meant for them in this world, which works well for all of us. Hey, I really appreciate you spending your time with us. We've got so much in store for you coming up right here next week on Happen To Your Career.

Speaker 3 47:42
There's all these morons out there making tons of money. What's my problem? Very smart, wonderful people doing it. But seriously as like how hard could it be?

Scott Anthony Barlow 47:54
Hey, all that and plenty more in store next week for you. We'll see you then. Until then, I am out. Adios.

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