Capp’s five-step approach to strengths-based recruitment

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September 2019
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strengths-based interview

The Candidate’s Experience of a Strengths-based Interview (SBI)

Posted by: Gurpal Minhas, Consulting Psychologist, Capp

 

I’m travelling back on the train from an interview that I’ve had today and I thought I’d let you know how it went. Initially, I was quite surprised that I was asked to return for a face-to-face interview, considering I haven’t got any experience in this field!

 

When I received the invitation from the company, they informed me that I’d be having a SBI. I hadn’t had one of those before, but I really enjoyed it….something that you don’t normally say after an interview!

 

So, what was it like?

 

I was pleasantly surprised that the interview opened up with some ‘gentler’ questions about me. I knew that I couldn’t get these wrong! The interviewers asked me about what I enjoyed doing on an ideal day and what significant accomplishments I was proud of.

 

The questions got me thinking. It was nice to see that the company were interested in getting to know more about me.

 

The interview was different compared to others that I’ve done. The questions varied in style and were mainly short and rapid fire. I’m not sure how the 45 minutes managed to disappear so quickly!

 

I found that the interview allowed me to explore my experiences both in and outside of employment. It didn’t matter so much that I hadn’t worked in their industry before.

 

The interview enabled me to show my passion and genuine enthusiasm for their organisation and industry. I didn’t feel constrained to talking about my past work-related achievements. The interviewers let me talk about my interests and how I felt about things. I was able to give genuine responses that were true to me.

 

I answered a lot more questions today in comparison to a competency-based interview. This was good - it enabled me to share more of myself. As with all good interviews, I got to understand more about the role and the company.

 

I found that the questions were structured in such a way that I was able to understand and get a real insight into the sorts of activities that I’d be involved in. They got me really excited about the role!

 

By the end of the interview, I felt that the assessors had seen the best of me and I knew a lot more about the role. As I walked out of reception, I had a real ‘buzz’. I felt that I could gauge my performance, whereas normally I’d be left feeling rather anxious after an interview.

 

So, what will I take away from this experience?

 

The SBI enabled me to share what I was good at alongside those things that I get energy from. I was able to share more about my motivations, energy and interests than I have ever shown before in an interview.

 

I look forward to completing many more – but hopefully sat on the side of the assessor, rather than as a candidate!

 

This blog showcases the candidate experience of a strengths-based interview. If you are a large employer and would like to see a SBI virtually or face-to-face (and you can even play the role of a candidate!), please contact us at capp@cappeu.com to benefit from a free demonstration.

 

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The Strengths-based Interview: An Interviewer’s Experience

Posted by: Gurpal Minhas, Consulting Psychologist, Capp

 

Wow. What a day. I’m just travelling home after conducting 8 SBIs for an experienced-hire vacancy within our recruitment function.

 

My team and I were really looking forward to running the interviews. Capp delivered  a ½ day training event  last week, but ultimately I really wanted to test the interviews on some live candidates!

 

Before we started the interviews, as I always do, I revisited the candidate’s CVs. I was a little anxious considering that on paper, some of the candidates didn’t look that strong – some only had minimal experience in our field so it was going to be interesting seeing how they would cope!

 

Instantly, all of the interviews got off on a really positive footing. As assessors, we built rapport with the candidates straight away by asking some warm-up questions like ‘What makes an ideal day for you?’

 

It was good to see the candidates become calmer, get into a more positive mindset and concentrate on what they enjoy doing and do well.

 

We moved into the interview questions – compared to our previous competency-based interviews, there were more questions. They were shorter and of a more rapid pace.

 

It was great. We had fewer typical responses of where people had led a sports team. Instead, we had more authentic and realistic examples. It really enabled us to differentiate what great looked like relative to just good.

 

I did find it difficult to restrain myself from probing to candidates on their answers. I had to trust in the methodology and it worked – Capp informed us that the questions were created and validated to ensure that the strongest candidates would provide the answers that we were looking for.

 

It was great to be able to start letting the candidate do all of the talking!

 

As we asked the questions, we noticed that the script contained more than just the typical ‘past experience’ type of questions. We had open, closed and hypothetical questions too. I didn’t miss at all the ‘tell me a time when you have….’ repetition!

 

From my years of interviewing, I’ve always found that people’s responses to past experience situations can give you a good insight into what they can do or have done.

 

But some examples I’ve heard have been really dated – last week, I heard a candidate sharing something that they did three years ago. Does it mean that they can deliver these behaviours for our organisation tomorrow?

 

What was really new to me (and the team) was being allowed to assess for body language. Capp had trained us to not only look at the candidate’s response but how the candidate delivered the response.

 

I noticed that the way that a candidate delivers their response to a question really is unique – we assessed tone, the type of language that someone uses, their authenticity and how engaged they are.

 

These factors really brought the questions to life. In many cases, we were really able to tell if someone simply could spot mistakes, or indeed whether they loved to spot mistakes!

 

So what remains of my earlier fear – that today’s candidates won’t have much experience in our industry? Well it wasn’t a problem!

 

One candidate in particular was so energised. She talked about her passion for what we do and how she can make an impact. This raw energy and motivation was something that I’ve seen and was able to objectively assess.

 

It’s such a great feeling to have total confidence in who you are selecting, with great evidence to support your decisions as well!

 

The best way to really understand what an SBI is all about, is to see it in action – and if you like; you can play the role of the assessor! If you’re a major employer, please contact us at capp@cappeu.com to benefit from a free demonstration.

 

In the meantime, look out for our next blog exploring the experience of the SBI from a candidate’s perspective…

 

 

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What is a Strengths-based Interview (SBI)?

Posted by: Celine Floyd, Managing Psychologist, Capp

 

So you’re an interviewer and it’s your 8th interview of the day. Your 8th ‘probe’ into generic ‘communication’ and ‘team work’. Your 8th ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ example. The candidates’ answers have been ‘reeled off’, and you just can’t tell if you really ‘believe it’. They looked good on paper, and they sound good.

 

But ARE they good? You still can’t tell if they are the right fit for your organisation. You would love to know what they are really passionate about, and what is really special about them. You look at your interview script and feel that sense of despair – you know that with these questions you are never going to really get to know the candidate in front of you.

 

A sad story, for you, and for them.

 

We feel your pain. In fact many of Capp’s consultants started life in the design, training and delivery of competency-based interviews. Until we saw the opportunities of the strengths-based interview (SBI)!

 

Used by major employers including Nestle, Ernst & Young, Barclays, Standard Chartered Bank, Harris + Hoole, Birmingham City Council and Thomson Reuters, strengths-based interviews are changing the face of interviewing for the better. But what actually is an SBI?

 

An SBI is an interview that is all about understanding what someone LOVES to do, as well as CAN do. It’s not just the assessment of what a candidate is competent at, but ALSO, looks to understand what they are passionate about, which activities and working environments give them energy, and what they are motivated by.

 

Essentially it is the rigorous assessment of  the candidate’s strengths and thereby their fit with the role. Capp are the developers of the SBI, and it can take many forms: 20 mins to 2 hours;  face-to-face, telephone or video; delivered and managed by us, or we can train you directly.

 

Whatever the format though, the following is always true:

 

  • The SBI involves more questions than a competency-based interview. In a 20 minute interview you might easily cover 8-10 questions, and in a typical hour long interview, you might ask up to 30 questions.
  • The questions are more ‘rapid fire’; asked in quick succession one after the other around a variety of different areas.
  • There is no probing into the candidate’s answers – how much they tell you is up to the candidate, and this in itself is one of the strongest signals of whether something is a strength for someone.
  • The questions will be a mixture of open, closed, hypothetical, and past.
  • You assess for ‘how’ someone answers a question (the body language, and tone of voice), as well as the ‘what’ someone is telling you.

 

So yes, you can throw out that competency interview rule book! It may sound ‘left field’ but when our SBI delivers results like a 50% drop in attrition, a 39% reduction in cost per hire, a 15% increase in de-selection, a customer satisfaction increase by 14.5% and a sickness absence reduction by 4.1% it is difficult to argue.

 

You can see why so many organisations are making the move to using the SBI. Join them and make pre-prepared answers and frustrating interviews a thing of the past.

 

The best way to really understand what an SBI is all about, is to see it in action – if you are a major employer, please contact us at capp@cappeu.com to experience a free demonstration.

 

In the meantime, though, look out for our next two blogs which will share what an SBI feels like from the perspective of both the interviewer and the candidate.

 

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Recruiting the Best Baristas

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

We’ve been delivering strengths-based recruitment for exciting new coffee shop chain, Harris + Hoole. Here, you can see this project featured in The Recruiter.

 

When Harris + Hoole wanted to ensure they were recruiting the right people to deliver the right customer experience – as well as, of course, making great coffee – they knew that recruiting people for what they did well, and loved to do, was the best route to success.

 

As you can see in The Recruiter article, Harris + Hoole are recruiting the best baristas (and other roles, including team members, team leaders and shop managers) through Capp’s Situational Strengths Test and Strengths-based Interview, two of the five steps from Strengths Selector, our five steps to strengths-based recruitment.

 

We’re delighted to be working with Harris + Hoole in this way, delivering performance through strengths.

 

We wish them every future success, with happy customers enjoying great coffee, served by positive and high-performing people.

 

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Announcing the Capp-Sonru Partnership for Strengths-based Video Interview Screening

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea

 

Recruitment budgets are being squeezed with companies demanding more efficiency and better results from leaner recruitment processes. We’re delighted to launch a new solution today that allows you to do just that.

 

Capp is today delighted to announce the launch of our partnership with Sonru, the leaders in one-way, asynchronous video interviewing. Through this exciting partnership, we will be delivering our strengths-based screening interview through Sonru’s state-of-the-art video interviewing platform.

 

Sonru’s video interviewing technology allows you to set up your interview questions on the system, for candidates to complete the interview when it suits them, and for you as the recruiter to review their responses when it suits you to do so.

 

The strengths-based interview is ideally suited to delivery through this one-way, asynchronous video interviewing technology. Unlike competency interviews, the strengths-based interview doesn’t depend on extensive probes or follow-ups, but gets straight to the heart of what you’re looking for in the role.

 

Strengths-based recruitment and video interviewing are the perfect match, with Capp and Sonru the perfect partners to deliver this new recruitment solution for you.

 

Read more about how strengths-based video interviewing can solve your screening and selection challenges here.

 

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Strengths-based Selection in Summary

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea

 

We’ve celebrated the launch of our new Strengths Selector website with a series of blogs that address each of the five steps of strengths-based recruitment.

 

Here’s an easy-reference summary of all the best bits:

 

Attraction – it’s where it all begins. Jamie Betts and Celine Jacques started us off with a look at the missing link between attraction and assessment, before Jamie turned his attention to the talent that lies waiting to be discovered by graduate recruiters going off-piste - a message that applies to any recruiter who’s trying to fish from a busy recruitment pond.

 

The Situational Strengths Test is the perfect solution for sifting large volumes of candidates and solving some of the challenges of modern recruitment, ensuring that your assessment methodologies are recruiting the right people for the right roles, as Celine Jacques and I explored in two of our blogs on this topic.

 

How do you prepare for a strengths-based interview? This was the topic of one of our very popular blogs from Celine Jacques, who concluded that ultimately you need to ‘ just be yourself’. Then, bringing his own unique brand of personal insight to the discussion, Jamie Betts shared his journey from competencies to strengths, and Nicky Garcea reflected on why competency-based interviews miss talented graduates.

 

With the assessment centre our next focus, Jamie Betts questioned why bespoke assessment centres always feel the same, concluding that it’s because the same 4 or 5 generic competencies are assessed time and again. Time for something different with the Strengths Assessment Centre.

 

Welcome on-board is the message that every potential candidate hopes to hear. Emma Trenier dreamed a dream on what it would take in getting on-boarding right, while Jamie Betts shared how ineffective on-boarding harms business performance.

 

Across each of these five steps of strengths-based recruitment, we’ve sought to share our experiences and deliver our insights.

 

We wanted to show you why strengths-based selection is being adopted as the best way to get the right people into the right roles. We hope we’ve succeeded – and thanks for reading.

 

To learn more about how Capp can help your organisation in each of these areas, visit our Strengths Selector website.

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From Competencies to Strengths: A Personal Journey

Posted by: Jamie Betts, Principal Consultant, Capp

 

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about strengths-based assessment is that no-one thought of it sooner. But ten years ago when I was starting my career, competencies where ‘the big thing’, while strengths-based assessment was a mere glint in the eye of a few ‘crazy’ academics.

 

A lot can happen in a decade. Looking back on our unshakeable faith in the effectiveness of competencies now, it looks like a hazy and confused dream. Competencies became an article of faith, upon which no criticism would be brooked. Line managers huffed and puffed, feeling restricted and frustrated by competency-based interviewing and its endless probes.

 

OK, line managers said, so someone has done something in the past – that doesn’t mean they enjoyed doing it, won’t that impact performance? But we didn’t listen. We didn’t care – we’d seen some old research that competency-based assessment worked, and we’d be damned if we were going to be told otherwise.

 

Well, that was then. And much has changed. The saturation of competency-based questioning, and the tendency of organisations to all measure the same half dozen core competencies, led to the ridiculous situation where candidates reeled off fully rehearsed answers before you’d even finished the question.

 

Any candidate who understood the format, or had been coached in any way by a careers service, was going to simply reel off the examples – collaboration, working well under pressure, dealing with change…

 

And so, what started as a well-intended assessment approach (to measure people based on their past behaviour) descended into farce. Interviewing became a bizarre ritualistic act. Candidates felt frustrated at being cornered by specific past-behavioural questioning and a barrage of probes.

 

They lied, they acted, they rehearsed – passing a competency-based interview became a measure of how convincingly you could reel off the same half dozen stories without sounding too bored. It didn’t really matter if the stories were true or not, since you had plenty of time to rehearse them in your head and cover your bases when the inevitable probes came your way.

 

Thank God, then, for strengths. Just at the moment when the thought of another competency-based interview had some of us reaching for the valium, along came a methodology that just… made sense. Line managers got it. Candidates loved it. And assessment experts breathed a huge sigh of relief.

 

Strengths are the future of assessment. They synergy of ‘can do’ and ‘love to do’ leads to peak performance. And as competencies start to fade into the twilight, please allow a few of us to break open the champagne  – after thousands of competency-based interviews, we deserve it.

 

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How to Prepare for a Strengths-based Interview

Posted by: Celine Jacques, Managing Psychologist, Capp

 

Many job candidates ask, ‘How can I prepare for a strengths-based interview?’ They want to know:

  • What is a strengths-based interview?
  • What will I be asked?
  • How can I make sure I do well?

 

The answer is simple, albeit something of a cliché: Just be yourself.

 

A strengths-based interview is all about understanding what energises and motivates you, as well as what you do well.

 

Organisations use strengths-based interviews to find out what candidates love to do and do well. They are focused on making sure that the people they select are the right people for the right role, who will enjoy their jobs, perform well and stay with the organisation.

 

Another reason that organisations use strengths-based interviews is because it is difficult for candidates to over-prepare for them. As a result, the strengths-based interview is a lot more difficult to fake, and the organisation gets to see the ‘real’ candidate coming through.

 

To help prepare for a strengths-based interview, be prepared for:

  • More questions that are delivered more quickly
  • Little or no probing
  • Some closed questions
  • The chance to express how you feel in relation to a task or activity
  • A request to provide several short examples.

 

Before having a strengths-based interview, there are a few simple things you can think about that will help you show the best of yourself on the day. As you prepare for your strengths-based interview, think about:

 

  • What your friends and family know you for - how would they describe you to a stranger?
  • What you enjoy doing, and what you are like at your best
  • The achievements you have made and how you made them
  • What a ‘great’ day looks like for you - when did you last go home energised, and why was that?
  • Activities that you do not particularly enjoy, and why.

 

When the day comes for your strengths-based interview, stay calm and be yourself. Let your individuality shine though. Use the interview as an opportunity to understand more about the company and the role – as they assess you, make sure you assess them.

 

Do you think this organisation is right for you? Do you think the role will play to your strengths? How will you fit in with the culture here?

 

And last but not least, enjoy it! A strengths-based interview is a genuine two-way process. The interviewer is interested in getting to know you, but you can also take the opportunity to show yourself at your best, demonstrating if you’re the type of person they’re looking for.

 

Strengths-based interviewing is part of Strengths Selector, Capp’s five steps to strengths-based recruitment.

 

Read more about the strengths-based interview here.

 

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Strengths Selector – Capp’s Five Steps to Strengths-based Recruitment

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea

 

We’re delighted to announce the launch today of the new Strengths Selector website, bringing together Capp’s long heritage and expertise in strengths-based recruitment.

 

Strengths Selector is Capp’s five steps to strengths-based recruitment. It’s all about getting the right people into the right roles, doing work they love to do.

 

Strengths Selector provides an end-to-end solution for strengths-based recruitment. It can be implemented in full, or using different elements of its modular format:

 

  • Strengths Attraction
  • Situational Strengths Test
  • Strengths-based Interview
  • Strengths Assessment Centres
  • Strengths On-boarding

 

To celebrate the launch of the Strengths Selector website, over the course of the next month, we will be showcasing a series of blogs about strengths-based recruitment. These blogs will cover the journey from competencies to strengths, graduate attraction through strengths, and a practical guide to strengths-based interviewing.

 

If there’s a topic you would like us to cover, please let us know by using the Comment function below.

 

We look forward to being in touch and sharing more of our developments in strengths-based recruitment and Strengths Selector with you.

 

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Why Competency-based Recruitment Misses Talented Graduates

Posted by: Nicky Garcea

 

“This latest research confirms that taking part in work placements or internships whilst at university is now just as important as getting a 2:1 or a first-class degree,” says Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, quoting their latest research.

 

High Fliers latest research report, The Graduate Market in 2013, reflects responses from recruiters from UK’s top 100 degree-level employers.  Half of the recruiters surveyed warned that graduates who had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful in their selection processes.

 

This is hardly a surprise when competency-based recruitment depends so critically on candidates being able to provide “an example of where you have done this before.”

 

If ever there was a case of needing experience to get the job, and needing the job to get the experience, it’s competency-based interviews. Competency-based interviews rest heavily on past experience.

 

As a result, it is easy to see how graduates who do not have a wealth of past work experience or job-specific examples, will often be sifted out of a large recruiter’s application process as early as the application stage.

 

These experiences, confirmed by the High Fliers research, clearly point to a need for both graduates and recruiters to take a fresh look at graduate recruitment.

 

After all, if every graduate candidate is simply regurgitating the same competency response that they picked up as a model answer from Wikijobs, that isn’t going to help any recruiter sift the talent from the rest. Equally as important, it isn’t going to help graduates get into a job they will love.

 

Thankfully, there is another way.

 

For many years now, we have been helping graduate recruiters (and other recruiters) use strengths-based recruitment to assess the candidate more holistically, by taking account of their energy and motivation, as well as their past performance.

 

Yes, there is still a role for what people have done before, but this isn’t the only criterion, or even the main criterion, by which they are judged.

 

Our experience of helping major organisations to recruit thousands of graduates for their strengths, rather than being constrained by looking only in the rearview mirror of what they have done in the past, is changing the face of graduate recruitment.

 

Companies like Barclays, Ernst & Young, Nestlé and Aviva are leading the way, with many others now starting to follow.

 

Strengths-based recruitment delivers the right talent for the right roles. In doing so, it depends not just on what people have done, or even what they can do, but more on what they love to do.

 

By getting graduates into the work they love, graduate recruiters will be building their future talent pipelines at the same time as making a significant social contribution, opening their doors to a wider talent pool than just the fortunate few who have “done it before”.

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