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Strength based interviews attract talent

Employers and recruiters have been using competency based interviewing as part of their recruitment and selection strategy for a very long time

The problem with a particular selection method becoming popular is that candidates get wise to the interview structure. The purpose of competency based interviewing was to reduce the risk in recruitment. The interview structure was designed to ask the candidate questions to get them to provide evidence that they could meet the previously assessed competencies required to do the job and their responses were often collated on a competency matrix.

The highest scoring candidate on the matrix would be deemed the most competent. It ignored one powerful factor, the potential of a candidate and their personal strengths. Being competent is not the same as having strengths. This has meant the Strength Based Interviewing (SBI) has gained favour particularly with graduate recruiters over the last few years.

SBI was championed by Ernst and Young in 2009 and designed to uncover what candidates enjoy doing, rather than what they are able to do. SBI is now used by companies like Royal Mail, Nestle, BAE Systems, Aviva, Unilever and the Royal Bank of Scotland. With competency based interviewing many candidates could prepare for questions such as “Give me an example of when you successfully handled a customer complaint?” or “Tell me about a time when you had to work to deadlines?”

Candidates could prepare STAR stories to show their competence in a situation by doing a certain task taking action and getting a result. The whole point of SBI is that the interview is far more authentic and candidate give natural responses during the interview. The benefits of SBI now seen to be tangible and exciting for recruiters and employers wishing to attract the best talent.

In 2011, Capp (a people management consultancy specialising in strengths-based approaches) showed that in Barclays Investment Bank’s graduate intake, 67% of successful candidates had a more positive view of the Bank as a result of their strengths-based interview so SBI attracts talent more than competency interviewing. Ernst and Young, the pioneers of SBI found that they deselected 15% more graduates at first interview compared to the previous competency approach however they accepted 12% more graduates at the following assessment centre stage compared to the previous competency approach.

This showed this process led to them selecting better quality candidates. Candidates selected through SBI tend to be more engaged and happier. Who doesn’t enjoy working in jobs which allow them to use their strengths? Interviewers also found that the interviews are far more interesting. Asking candidates questions like “What excites you?” and “What motivates you?” allows for a far more interesting interview experience and keep the selection process fresh.

If are still using competency based interviewing with your candidates perhaps it is time to look at SBI.

By Jill Mytton Chartered Member CIPD, MBA HR Consultant at GrowHR

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One comment

  1. I completely agree it is so important to give the candidate a positive experience during the recruitment process. Unearthing their strengths is key, another way of accomplishing this would be to include Character DNA testing. This online questionnaire gives the candidate the opportunity to express their preferences and opinions, communication styles, ways of working and strengths. These things don’t always get uncovered at an interview or on a CV, thus leaving the hiring manager uninformed which results in missing out on first rate candidates.

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