5 Strength-Based Interview Questions to Ask When Onboarding

It can be difficult to fully understand a new hire, especially if the post-hire interview consists of a handful of standard questions that are asked of all new additions to your team. That’s why asking strength-based interview questions is essential to successful employee onboarding.

Instead of asking each new hire the same traditional competency-based questions, shift the focus from what new hires can do to what they enjoy doing.

The reasoning behind this approach is simple: employees who enjoy their work and the processes around it can more easily put their whole selves into their work.

Being their authentic self at work can help employees be much more successful in the day-to-day parts of the role. This can increase job satisfaction and longevity, which is great not only for your employees but also the bottom line. Research shows employees who are disengaged at work cost U.S. companies $550 billion annually, and turnover costs American businesses $1 trillion each year.

Post-hire interviews can be repetitive and daunting, especially when you’re trying to determine how to maximize the strengths of your new hire. In many cases, your new employee’s soft skills are just as important to their success at your company as their sales skills or any other job skill.

By asking strength-based questions, human resources professionals have more opportunity to get to know each new hire on a deeper level and gain insight into how to help them truly thrive at a company.

What Is Strength-Based Onboarding?

When most managers engage with new hires, they follow a set list of questions focused around skills and other company-based topics.

But that usually won’t allow you to dig deeper into their passions. With strength-based interview questions, human resources professionals focus instead on what natural talents the new hire possesses and what motivates them.

By using a strength-based approach to onboarding new talent, you can emphasize what new hires love to do instead of what their resume lists in their job history. This helps your HR team achieve a much deeper level of engagement with new hires and helps them see a fuller picture.

It comes down to having an authentic, down-to-earth conversation with new hires about their work and their desires. This approach shifts the focus from what your new team member has done in the past and instead centers it around what they hope to accomplish in the future.

This is an integral part of developing an effective leadership plan to reduce turnover and build a stronger business.

The Benefits of Asking Strength-Based Interview Questions

Companies around the world use strength-based onboarding so they can play to the strengths of their high-potential new hires. However, not every company is willing or eager to switch up their onboarding processes.

Here are some ways this technique will benefit you:

  • Greater clarity for all parties involved.
  • Overall reduction of staff turnover in the long run.
  • Improved productivity, as employees will feel more connected to their roles.

A strength-based onboarding process will help you find answers to the following questions:

  • How does the new hire behave naturally?
  • How might a new hire respond to day-to-day dilemmas as they perform their role in your company?
  • How will the new hire face adversity?

The goal isn’t to simply determine whether the new employee can perform the role they were hired to do. It’s to uncover what will keep them motivated and energized, and how they will fit into the company long-term.

Using these methods in coordination with your recruitment process can help you build a long-term talent strategy to keep your company at the forefront of recruiting the best talent.

As a result, you will make the most of your team and reduce turnover in the long run.

5 Strength-Based Interview Questions to Ask

There is no way to predict what questions will resonate with each new hire. However, by asking more general strength-based interview questions in the post-hire interview, you can work toward understanding someone’s core strengths.

Open-ended questions can feel more personal than professional. Unlike traditional interview questions, these aim to get to know who the new hire really is as a person, and how they can fit into the company.

Asking about hypothetical situations in the workplace can help you figure out what type of work each new hire enjoys, and whether a new hire will enjoy their new role.

This allows you to pair the new hire with an established employee for mentorship. Why does this matter? A solid onboarding process is essential because 22% of staff turnover happens in the first 45 days of employment.

Here are some sample strength-based interview questions for your screening process:

1. What energizes you each day?

What makes you get up in the morning? What excites you? This question is really asking what makes them tick, and the answer will be different for everyone.

Some might cherish spending lunch with coworkers, while others might look forward to tackling a new challenge. Others may simply like the free coffee at work.

Asking this strength-based question can help your team tailor a work experience to each worker to ensure they excel each day. It’s all about building a great employee experience to help improve employee retention.

2. How do you resolve obstacles that may interfere with your plans?

Most workers will experience obstacles and conflict during the course of their employment. But not every employee will inherently understand how to tackle these problems or fix them.

Asking this question will help human resources professionals better understand how new hires resolve conflict and remove obstacles that prevent them from achieving their goals.

Will the worker try to talk with the parties involved? Will they simply ignore problems and return at a later date? Would they struggle to find a way to resolve the obstacles?

Asking about conflict resolution can be a great way to determine how someone will fit into company culture, team culture, and get along with their new coworkers. This can also help you choose team building questions to target any areas that need improvement.

3. How would your friends describe you?

This is an important topic that addresses the qualities of the new hire. Friendships with coworkers is an important element of employee engagement.

One Gallup study found that those who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. It’s an especially poignant point because we spend so much time at work. In fact, one Stanford study shows that half of today’s 5-year-olds will live to 100 years old, which means 60-year careers.

Asking this question about personal characteristics and qualities can help you understand how the worker might fit into their new team.

4. What do you consider to be your most significant achievement?

The purpose of this question is two-fold: learning about their achievements and understanding why the person values that achievement.

Did they work hard to overcome a particular obstacle, or did they take on a specific challenge for the first time? Whatever the answer, expect to learn more about what makes your new hire feel proud.

5. What is your most successful day and how would you describe it?

It’s natural to feel nervous when asked competency-based interview questions that assess skills and knowledge. But questions about a favorite task or most successful day gives the new hire a chance to open up and explain more about their values and priorities in life.

Why does this matter? Focusing on what you love to do, instead of what you can do, is one of the key pillars of strength-based recruiting. When someone tells you about one of their most successful days at work, they are revealing what makes them an effective worker and what type of incentives, motivation, or working environment they need to achieve success.

Final Thoughts

Competency-based interview questions can provide one perspective on prospective employees, but strength-based interview questions can help provide a fuller picture during the interview process, onboarding, and beyond. Through authentic conversations, you can maximize the potential of a new hire and reduce employee turnover in the long run.

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