Strength-Based Recruitment Explained

Strength-Based Recruitment

When you’re hiring people, you look for a person who has the skills and competencies to do the job as expected—but is that enough? Today, many employers would say no, as an increasing number aim to look beyond core competencies when interviewing and hiring job candidates. When employees are positioned to use their strengths at work, they’re much more likely to outperform those who do not.

Strength-based recruitment, an approach to hiring that goes beyond just looking at the skills and behaviors of the candidates, has been on the rise in recent years. The benefits are clear: 97% of trained interviewers from companies that have introduced strength-based recruitment say it will help them find the right people, improve performance, and enhance their brand.

Here’s what you need to know to bring strength-based recruitment to your organization.

What’s in?

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What is strength-based recruitment?

According to Gallup, strengths are “the unique combination of talents, knowledge, and skills that every person possesses. People use these innate traits and abilities in their daily lives to complete their work, to relate with others, and to achieve their goals.” 

This translates easily to recruitment. Strength-based recruitment is an approach to hiring focused on natural talents and motivators, as opposed to a candidate’s competencies. Rather than focusing purely on candidates’ skills and behaviors, strength-based recruitment hones in on the intrinsic motivation that drives those behaviors.

In other words, what are your candidates passionate about? What type of work do they actually want to be doing? Your organization can benefit greatly from focusing on each person’s individual strengths and factoring them into your hiring decisions. This doesn’t mean you should disregard relevant soft and hard skills. Instead, the key is to look beyond that and consider each candidate holistically.

For example, imagine you’re a recruiter looking to fill a computer programmer role. Naturally, you’re going to keep an eye out for candidates with coding experience; however, strength-based recruiting takes it one step further by focusing on why a candidate is passionate about coding. Doing so will help you place the right people in the right roles, increasing your effectiveness as a recruiter, ensure alignment with your company values, and reaping several benefits for your business. We’ll talk about those next!

Strength-Based Recruitment Process Experience

Companies which have started using a strength-based recruitment approach see improvements in their candidate experience.

What are the benefits of strength-based recruitment?

Before you make the shift to a strength-based approach to recruiting, you need to understand how it improves recruitment efforts and benefits your organization overall:

Shorter time to productivity

It takes quite a while for even the best new hires to become fully productive in their roles. Strength-based recruitment leads to shorter time to productivity, enabling new hires to utilize their strengths from the beginning and learn things more quickly over time. 

Increased productivity levels

Generally speaking, strength-based recruitment also leads to increased productivity levels as a whole. Because people are inherently more motivated to do their jobs, they’re also more productive and efficient at work. 

Better employee engagement

Another amazing benefit to strength-based recruitment is better employee engagement. People who know and use their strengths are 6 times more likely to be engaged at work. When people enjoy what they’re doing, they also enjoy working within a team of people who are also on the same wavelength. 

Improved employee retention

Employers also see improved new hire retention and reduced turnover as a result of adopting strength-based recruitment practices. Since the workers are well-matched to their jobs and feel like they’re using their strengths, they have fewer reasons to leave. This also leads to decreased hiring expenses that result from the cost of a bad hire.

Strength-Based Recruitment and Turnover

Strength-based recruitment is an effective method of overcoming early employee turnover.

Reduced unconscious bias

Taking a strength-based approach to recruitment also helps to reduce unconscious bias by avoiding emphasis on a candidate’s (educational) background or ethnicity. Instead, recruiters recognize potential based on individual strengths and motivators.

More inclusive workplace

Going beyond the obvious and emphasizing people’s drive and potential over the hard skills provides a more level-playing field to candidates from different walks of life. Here’s how Alex Linley, co-founder of a strength-based talent acquisition organization, explained how focusing on strengths leads to a more inclusive workplace: 

“Because strengths are inherently human, we are helping recruit from a wider pool and find people that might have overlooked through traditional methods of recruitment. Using strengths in recruitment goes beyond the surface and looks to find candidates who are going to shine and be successful with an organization because of their strengths.”

7 strength-based recruitment best practices

1. Expand your focus

It starts with thinking about the big picture. If you’re considering switching to strength-based recruitment, you need to look beyond the traditional job requirements and understand what strengths tie into them. Then, you’ll need to map these strengths out depending on the role(s) in question. You should also consider how the strengths you’re looking for mesh with your company values, as well as how you can incorporate this into your recruitment process.

2. Consider your desired outcomes

Before you get started, it’s important to consider your desired outcomes: What do you expect from this recruitment method? Do you want to achieve complete cultural transformation or improve certain key performance indicators (KPIs)? And most importantly, how can strength-based recruitment help you achieve these desired results?

Defining what a good outcome looks like will help guide your strategy and improve the likelihood of achieving the results you’re looking for from strength-based recruitment. You can then use your desired outcomes to narrow down the strengths your organization needs to achieve them.

Productivity Increase with Strength-Based Recruitment

Consider what you expect to get from the strength-based recruitment method. Do you want to increase productivity, performance or employee engagement? 

3. Evaluate top performers

Once you know your desired results, take a look at your top performers for each role and identify what they have in common. What drives them to work harder? What are their strengths and passions, and how do they get to use them within their role? When it comes to their daily responsibilities at work, what do they love and excel in most?

Determining the strengths of your top-performing employers will help you get a better understanding of why they’re so good at what they do—and why they love it so much! What you learn will essentially serve as your framework when developing job descriptions and strength-based interview questions.

4. Select tools to support you

Now that you’ve identified your desired outcomes and which strengths will help accomplish them, you need to select tools to support you throughout the process. Different types of recruitment technology can help support you as you make the switch from competency-based to strength-based recruitment. Plus, technology and recruiting automation can relieve you of repetitive, time-consuming tasks and help you better connect with the most promising candidates you interview by automating manual work and increasing your efficiency. 

For example, you might need a personality questionnaire in your pre-employment testing to help you get to know your candidates better and uncover their strengths. You can then discuss the results during the strength-based interview process to learn more about what motivates candidates.

5. Write strength-focused job postings

Make it a point to incorporate the strengths you’re looking for into your job postings. It’s important to write strength-based job descriptions in a way that allows the right candidates to recognize they’re a good fit. If candidates relate to the strengths listed in job descriptions, they’re more likely to feel they’re compatible and apply for the role.

To write a strength-focused job description that appeals to potential candidates, start by listing out the strengths and motivations you learned from meeting with your organization’s top performers. Then, make sure to include some of those strengths in your job advertisement to increase the number of qualified candidates who apply.

Stop guessing,
Start data-driven hiring.

Learn how you implement a modern candidate selection process, that is: streamlined, experience-driven and backed by data.

6. Conduct strength-based interviews

Strength-based interviews are focused on understanding what an individual’s strengths are, whether they can use them effectively and how engaged and motivated they are. Here’s how Elizabeth Bacchus, director of the Successful CV Company, described the shift toward strength-based interviews: “Companies have recognized they are seeing a more genuine insight into candidates with strength-based interviews. When an individual uses their strengths they perform at their best and learn new information quicker.”

To do so effectively, conduct strength-based interviews, which are different from regular interviews that are typically focused on core skills and competencies, to learn each candidate’s motivations. Prepare and ask strength-based interview questions to your candidates to help you better understand their passions and intrinsic motivations.

Here are some of our favorite examples of good strength-based interview questions to ask when you meet with job candidates:

  • What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
  • What are you naturally good at doing?
  • What types of skills do you learn quickly?
  • What do you procrastinate on your to-do list?
  • What do you enjoy (and not enjoy) doing at work?
  • When did you achieve something you were proud of?
  • What topics do you enjoy learning about the most?
  • Do you prefer to start tasks or finish them?
  • When do you feel the most motivated?
  • How will this role play to your strengths?

7. Continue with strength-based development

After you make your candidate selection, you should continue to engage your new hires and to further develop their strengths. In a study on strength-based development, Gallup found that teams focused on it improved a considerable amount in six key areas: sales, profit, customer engagement, turnover, employee engagement, and safety. Overall, strength-based career development results in happier employees who go the extra mile.

To bring strength-based development to your organization, learn what work activities your employees enjoy most on a day-to-day basis. By gathering feedback and learning which part of each person’s role motivates them, you can improve engagement and increase the effectiveness of career development efforts at your organization.

Strengths and Employee Engagement

To benefit from the strength-based approach as much as you can, you should consider how you could incorporate it into your organization beyond the recruitment process.

A final thought

Gallup broke it down best when they said: “Strengths are integral in daily operations, acting like glue that reinforces performance. The organization is strongest when it values and respects the unique potential of every employee. The goal is to make it easy for employees to use their strengths as often as possible.”

If you’re looking for ways to build and manage an engaged, productive workforce, a strength-based approach to recruitment might be the right fit for you. If you can’t transform your whole strategy right now, see if there are any elements you could incorporate, like making a part of your interview process strength-based. The end result will be nothing but positive for your organization, your employees, and your company culture as a whole.

Stop guessing,
Start data-driven hiring.

Learn how you implement a modern candidate selection process, that is: streamlined, experience-driven and backed by data.



Heather Bates is an experienced writer with a focus on HR, recruitment, and tech-related topics. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her taking photos, wire-wrapping crystals, and/or drinking iced coffee.
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