Skills and competences? They’re so yesterday…

young woman doing martial arts

Do your strengths equip you for battle?

The battle lines are being re-drawn. At my signal, unleash a hell of a change.

If you think this analogy is a touch lame, then you haven’t tried making a job application to a big recruiter recently. If you have, then you know it’s a war out there. You need meticulous planning and organisation and then you sally forth armed with self-knowledge to meet a mysterious opponent armed to the teeth with difficult questions, psychometric tests, group exercises and (gulp) presentations.

And what’s in your armoury? Well, conventional wisdom tells you to equip yourself with a full understanding of the recruiter’s competences and matching evidence that you have developed all of these in your life so far. After all, each step of the recruitment process is based on the same set of competences.

But the ground might be shifting. No sooner have you got your head round competences, along come strengths and attitudes (it’s a kind of arms race thing). . The former measure is a bit difficult to explain so I’ll leave it to the leading professional services firm, Ernst & Young, to explain what happens in their interviews.

A final strengths-based interview is incorporated as part of the assessment centre in most cases. Whilst competency style questions will be asked, the focus will once more be on the idea of strengths, and whether a candidate is being genuine and natural in their answers.

So rather than asking you how you have demonstrated group work skills, they ask you what you do well, what activities energise you, when are you most yourself. In other words, they want to know from you exactly what you think you’re good at.

When it comes to attitude, a growing number of recruiters are focusing as much on your personality as your strengths and competences. Whether you are positive, genuine, enthusiastic and demonstrate the right attitude to work is going to be more of a selection factor than ever before. Same battle, slightly different rules of engagement.

If you want to read more about this, go to our sister site in the UK, and read the Employer Insight for Ernst & Young.

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