When I coach clients interviewing for jobs, one of the most common frustrations I hear is: “I hate to talk about myself.” Gallup Strengths provide a cure for that problem by shifting the focus from “why I am great” to “why I am the way I am.” I think this latter dialogue feels better because it seems more objective, while still getting the necessary points across. This can also be true when explaining one’s actions or thought process to a leader, the subject of the second blog in this series.

Let’s assume you are asked, “Why should I hire you?” Here are two possible answers:

Response A: I will be a great employee because I am highly motivated, can get a lot done, and work well with teams.

Response B: Let me share with you my top Gallup strengths and how they play out. Achiever, Focus, Responsibility, Harmony, Includer and Restorative are my top strengths. My Responsibility strength makes me feel that when I make a commitment, I am signing my life to it. It is very important to meet any deadlines and expectations. I then use my Focus and Achiever strengths to make a list of tasks to achieve the goal and my Focus strength allows me to eliminate distractions and get a lot done, thus ensuring I meet the goal. I prefer doing so with teams, as I find my Includer and Harmony strengths help me identify the people on the outside who should be brought into the discussion, and then I efficiently facilitate us to an end goal. If we run into barriers or problems (which is common), the gift of my Restorative strength kicks in to break down the situation and reconstruct a better solution, again staying focused on the issue at hand to get it done quickly and with the group’s involvement.

Which response do you like better? As someone who interviews prospects for clients to ensure a strong cultural fit, response B gives me more insight into how the person operates, as well as transferable skills or qualities they possess that go beyond the initial responsibilities of the position they are applying for. In addition,

sharing about how you use your strengths demonstrates excellent self-awareness, a key to emotional intelligence.

Preparing for an interview can be tough, so here are some of my best tips:

  1. Examine the role description of the position you are interviewing for.
  2. Identify top skills and attributes needed to perform the desired job well.
  3. List your top 10 Gallup strengths. If you don’t know them, I encourage you to take the assessment.
  4. Determine the ways you use these strengths currently as well as how you’ve used them in the past.
  5. Build an explanation around tip No. 4.
  6. Make sure you also have concrete examples of where you have demonstrated these strengths – specifically sharing the context of the situation, the action(s) you took, and the results you acheived.

Your Challenge: Over the next week, examine the strength combinations you use to be effective in the workplace. Keep a journal of how these combinations work, and over time, add great examples of where you achieved exceptional results as well as how you achieved them. You never know when your next interview might be!