What Are Strength-Based Interview Questions? (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 4 November 2022

Published 18 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Strength-based interview questions are a common feature of the interview process. This type of question helps interviewers understand a candidate's personality, goals and potential for adapting to the company's culture. Learning more about strength-based questions can help you prepare for an upcoming interview. In this article, we explain what strength-based interview questions are, discuss the purpose of this question type, share typical strength-based questions and provide some tips to help you prepare.

What are strength-based interview questions?

Strength-based interview questions are a type of questioning style that employers use to understand a candidate's character. They focus on your interests, lifestyle and goals. Strength-based questions often solicit your true feelings or views on certain life situations, giving employers an insight into your personality and whether you can thrive in their organisation. There are three types of strength-based questions, namely warm-up, forced answer and scenario-based questions.

Related: 4 Steps to Emphasise Personal Strengths in an Interview

Why do employers ask strength-based questions?

Strength-based questions help employers understand your suitability for the role. Employers can also use these questions to find out if your interests align with the job, as someone with a genuine passion for the role might perform their duties better. This type of question can be especially useful for distinguishing candidates who hold similar qualifications, or when assessing those with limited practical experience.

Related: How to Prepare for These Competency-Based Interview Questions

Types of strength-based warm-up questions

At the start of the interview, employers typically ask some general questions to get better acquainted with the candidate. These types of questions centre around the candidate's interests and perspectives on life. At this stage, employers assess a candidate's engagement and body language. Here are some examples of strength-based warm-up questions that an interviewer might ask:

  1. What are your hobbies outside of work?

  2. How do you usually spend your weekends?

  3. What motivates you to come to work?

  4. What was your favourite subject in school?

  5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  6. What are you naturally good at?

  7. Share with me an achievement of yours that you're particularly proud of.

  8. Tell me how you discovered your passion.

  9. What is your definition of success?

  10. Share with me a joyous moment in your previous job.

  11. What's one quote that you live by?

  12. How would your friends and family describe you?

  13. Who is your greatest source of inspiration?

  14. What's one piece of advice you always provide?

  15. Do you feel successful now?

  16. How do you wish to improve your current lifestyle?

  17. What do you like about our company that made you apply for this position?

Related:

  • Interview Question: 'Tell Me About Yourself'

  • Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

Types of forced answer questions

These questions usually feature two options, requiring you to select one and justify it. They help employers to extract a more direct response from you and observe how you react to pressure. Being decisive and confident in your answers can affirm your suitability for the position to the hiring manager. These are some common forced answer questions that your interviewer may ask:

  1. Do you prefer working by yourself or in teams?

  2. Are you more comfortable communicating through text or in person?

  3. Do you prefer to complete your tasks immediately or procrastinate?

  4. Are you more of a leader or team player?

  5. Do you usually avoid conflicts or handle them confidently?

  6. Do you work better in a stressful or carefree environment?

  7. Do you prefer interacting with customers or working in the back-end?

  8. Are you receptive to criticism or would you rather avoid it?

  9. Do you enjoy working on multiple projects at once or focusing on one project at a time?

  10. Do you value passion or salary more when finding a job?

  11. Are you the one initiating conversations or waiting for others to do so at work?

Types of strength-based scenario questions

Interviewers may proceed by asking strength-based scenario questions. These encourage you to describe previous experiences or responses to role-specific situations. Through such questions, employers can further assess how you react to challenging situations. This question type also allows the interviewee to attain an idea of the possible scenarios to expect if they're offered the position. Answer these questions in detail and substantiate your answers with evidence if possible. Here are the types of scenario questions that the interviewer may ask:

  1. What do you do when you encounter a problem at work?

  2. How do you respond when a colleague is behaving disrespectfully towards you?

  3. How would you respond when your manager tasks you with something you've never done before?

  4. If you've committed a serious mistake at work, what steps would you take next?

  5. Can you share an experience where you thrived under pressure?

  6. What would you do if you were assigned to a project with a colleague that you don't work well with?

  7. Can you describe a time when you had to work with limited resources?

  8. What would you do if you found out about unethical practices within your department?

  9. Would you side with your colleagues if you knew they made mistakes at work?

  10. How do you foresee yourself progressing in this company?

  11. What career plans do you have over the next five years?

  12. As a leader, explain how you would handle conflicts within your team.

Related: How to Answer 'Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?' Interview Question (With Examples)

3 examples of strength-based questions with sample answers

Here are three examples of strength-based questions with suggested answers for your reference:

1. What are your biggest strengths?

This is a common warm-up question that's used to begin the interview. As this is a general question, you can mention some of your key traits that benefit the role that you're applying for. You can provide three to five strengths, elaborating on them with anecdotes from past work experiences.

Example: 'Through my past experiences working in customer-facing roles, one of my biggest strengths is my ability to communicate with others. I enjoyed these customer interactions and gained a strong sense of satisfaction from making them smile. Adding on to that, I also adapt well to different situations and can quickly work around limitations. I'm aware that emergencies can occur at any moment and that it's important to be flexible. Lastly, I possess a strong determination to solve problems at work. I won't rest until I find a feasible solution to the problem.'

2. How receptive are you to criticism?

This is an example of a forced-answer question that your interviewer may ask. Through your response, they can judge if you're able to take feedback with a positive mindset and assess your level of maturity. Being specific, truthful and direct in your response can help them gauge if you're suitable for the position.

Example: 'I welcome constructive criticism at work. Although praises are pleasant to hear, I believe this is the type of feedback that enables me to mature and progress in my career. Through criticism, I know what areas I can work on to improve my craft.'

3. How would you respond when your manager tasks you with something you've never done before?

This is an example of a scenario-based question, which challenges your ability to think adeptly in that moment. It allows the interviewer to evaluate your determination to overcome obstacles. If possible, share a past account of a similar situation and describe how you overcame that situation to add credibility to your response.

Example: 'I would inform my manager about my knowledge limitations. I would assure him that I can still complete the task, except that I may need more time. There was an instance when a previous supervisor had tasked me with something I was not familiar with. Eventually, I confided in him about my lack of experience. Thankfully, he was understanding and provided me with more time to work on this task. This is the approach I would take if I encountered a similar situation again.'

Tips to prepare for strength-based questions

Here are some simple tips you can follow to mentally prepare yourself to answer these types of questions:

  • Research the company and role you're applying for to find out more about the company culture.

  • Highlight requirements in the job description relating to certain strengths or personality traits that you possess.

  • Conduct a practice interview session with someone who can provide you with professional feedback.

  • Write a list of your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Recall any past work experiences that may be helpful during your interview and prepare any evidence or relevant documents for it.

  • Keep yourself mentally composed before entering the interview.

Related: Stepped Guide on How to Ace an Interview: Tips and Examples

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