How to Effectively Use Strengths for Hiring Great People
One of the ways StrengthsFinder gets misused is in the hiring process. Hiring good people is hard. Sometimes, to short circuit the process, employers try and use StrengthsFinder as a way to find the “perfect” person with the “perfect” Strengths to fill a role. In our opinion, StrengthsFinder was never intended to be used this way.
When we work with clients who are on the journey to becoming Strengths-based organizations, we remind them that when it comes to hiring, the first step is less about the StrengthsFinder language and more about cultivating a culture focused on what’s right about people. The positive foundation shapes the rest of the complex, people-focused work.
In addition to Leadership Vision, I work for a company called Aeritae as the Director of Strengths Based Culture. Aeritae is a growing 70 employee Professional Services and Service Innovation consulting firm based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. We, at Aeritae, staked a claim that we are Strengths based and values driven. Values are the core and Strengths, or what’s best in us, are how we deliver on those values. Since 2010, we’ve used StrengthsFinder as a language to promote self-awareness, others’ awareness, and to spark action to shape a positive organizational culture. Based on the fine character of our founders, Michael Finlon and Nick Hernandez, we’ve been Strengths based since the beginning of the company in 2001, even without the language of StrengthsFinder. Aeritae has always sought to give smart, hardworking, and relational professionals a platform to make a difference in organizations in their business and technology divisions.
Many employees, potential candidates, and friends of Aeritae ask how we use Strengths in the hiring process. It might be easier to first explain how we DO NOT use Strengths.
We don’t use Strengths to:
- Hire based on a StrengthsFinder profile. We refuse to take a prescriptive approach.
- Search out a certain Strengths profile in order to find a talented individual to “round us out” on a team or in a practice area.
- Force a candidate to take StrengthsFinder before the rounds of interviews.
- Hire, place, or promote people around someone’s Strengths. StrengthsFinder was never meant to be a hiring or firing tool and we stand by that.
We do use Strengths in a variety of ways:
- We use Strengths in a descriptive way that assists candidates and hiring managers as we interview each other to determine cultural fit.
- Whether candidates take us up on the offer to take StrengthsFinder ahead of interviews or not, we still have conversations about what is right about them.
- Even if we don’t choose each other, we hope that candidates get the sense of who Aeritae is and what we value. We value people.
- We encourage hiring managers to pay attention to how their own Strengths show up when they are filling jobs and working to get the right person at the table.
- Strengths reveal “how” a candidate might show up. If we are deciding between two amazing professionals, sometimes understanding the Strengths will describe how each candidate will be successful in different ways.
When to Use Strengths in the Hiring Process
Here are three times when Strengths can be tremendously helpful during the hiring process:
1. INVITATION WITHOUT PRESSURE
After we find the best people, we invite candidates to take StrengthsFinder to get an inside scoop on the language we use around the company. They are never pressured to take the test. Sometimes we hire candidates and welcome them into the fold before they have taken StrengthsFinder. We are so convinced that if they are a values fit and have the skill and capacity to be successful, Strengths will only help them be more successful once they join the team.
2. CULTIVATE STRENGTHS AWARENESS IN YOUR HIRING TEAM
We encourage hiring managers to pay attention to how their own Strengths show up when they are filling jobs and working to get the right person in the right seat. An internal discussion about Strengths and our hiring teams will reveal the unique perspective each person has.
- What Strength(s) do you use to select the best candidate?
- What Strength(s) do you listen with to determine the fit of a candidate?
- What Strength(s) in you come most alive in the interview process?
Aeritae’s CEO, Michael, whose Strength of Relator is strong, tends to extend conversations, spread out interviews overtime, and sometimes doesn’t like to talk shop. One new hire remarked that Michael only discussed hockey during their interview. He does this because he values the “real person” in each of our candidates. Michael’s Strengths reveal how he embodies our core values.
3. GO IN DEPTH IN YOUR ONBOARDING PROCESS
Ramp up the Strengths conversations once people join the team. We have individual conversations, post team dashboards, and invite new employees to ask any kind of question around who’s who on their team. Everyone hired at Aeritae is invited to be a positive shaper of culture. Strengths are kept alive through conversation, evaluations, and performance discussions. In our first year, employees at Aeritae engaged in a 16-hour Strengths experience. We believe the Strengths investment at Aeritae is a catalytic tool to cultivate our positive culture, help people feel known, and boost engagement at all levels of the organization.
How and when have you used Strengths in the talent recruitment lifecycle? Share below.