I think we’re all familiar with the ever-famous interview question: “tell me about your strengths.” Let me tell you, talking about things that I am good at has never been a strength of mine. Sure, I have always been able to list that I think I am a hard worker, organized, and dedicated. Every time I list those, though, I feel like they are the generic strengths that most people talk about.
On that note, I have also honestly answered that question in an interview with “I don’t think I have any strengths.”… Not a great idea.
Participating in Level Up – a new program from Ryerson Student Life that encourages you to explore your academic, personal, and professional experiences and gives you the tools to create an eportfolio – has helped me learn a lot about myself, and has really helped me recognize the things that I am doing as a student have been incredibly valuable to my growth. Both Level Up and Strengthsfinder have helped me be able to frame and reference my strengths and skills, and have provided me the tools to be able to articulate what makes me unique. My Strengthsfinder assessment, along with the workshops I’ve attended and the support from my peers and supervisors have pushed me to consider how I use my strengths differently in all the things that I do.
1. Your actions are influenced by your strengths and talents, even if you don’t realize those strengths.
I always thought that the way I approach things was standard, and that other people approached things in a similar way to me. I just assumed that anyone would stick it out in the office three hours after their shift was up because they hadn’t completed a task the way they’d wanted it done. But working in different places and with different people has made me realize this is something fairly unique to me. This is something I’ve learned that I do as someone that has “responsibility” as one of their top strengths. Being able to consider each of my five strengths, and instances where I enact them in my daily life is something Strengthsfinder has helped me become aware of.
Overall, reflecting on my experiences, here are five (5) things that participating in Level Up has helped me learn about my five (5) strengths:
2. It’s cool if you don’t relate to all of your strengths, they look different to each individual person.
My five strengths are: Harmony, Responsibility, Restorative, Developer, and Relator, and although I see myself in most of these strengths, “Harmony” specifically is one that I don’t always feel fits. I completed Strengthsfinders the first time working in a role where customer service was the focus, and I wondered if in switching roles, my strengths would change. I completed it a second time (which isn’t supposed to be a thing) because I felt like since my focus and responsibilities had changed, my strengths must have too. Instead, what happened was “Harmony” went from third to first and three of my strengths stayed the same altogether… that must not have been a coincidence. What I’ve learned is that strengths reveal themselves in different ways in different people, which makes this all a little more exciting. Harmony to me won’t necessarily look like harmony to you, this is something I’ve learned as a result of reflecting on my different experiences. Strengthsfinder has challenged me to do exactly what its name says – finding and acknowledging how I use my strengths in different ways and in different places.
3. Knowing my strengths has helped me learn who I work well with, and who I need around me to complement my own strengths.
I have learned that knowing my strengths, and the areas under which they fall help me understand the different relationships in my life. I have come to experience that working with people that have differing and complementary strengths to mine makes accomplishing tasks easier and more productive, even though it may seem easier, when working towards a common goal, to gravitate towards those with a similar way of doing things. Keeping this in mind also makes it easier to understand that others come with different perspectives, influenced by their own individual strengths and experiences.
4. Your strengths are good at helping explain more about your personality too, not just what you’re good at professionally.
My favourite strength is my “Responsibility” strength. I tend to be a person that asks a lot of questions, and although to some that may get fairly annoying, I do it because I just genuinely want to get things done well, and because I care a lot about whatever it is that I am working on. A piece of my strengths description states: “Because of your strengths, you regularly go out of your way to do what you promised”, and this is something I personally feel is present in all the areas of my life, not just in the office. Knowing that three out of five of my strengths are relationship building strengths helps me understand the kinds of things I like to do, tasks I enjoy working on, etc. Knowing your strengths can help you build better relationships, work more productively, and find places that feel a little bit more like they were meant for you.
5. I won’t ever need to answer a strengths-related interview question with a generic answer again.
Having not only an understanding of my strengths on paper, but also being able to acknowledge how I use them in the different aspects of my daily life has given me more confidence in being able to articulate them when asked. I also feel more confident and able to provide relevant examples of when I’ve used them, what makes me unique, and how they would be useful in whatever role it is I am trying to get.
By Emily Marvel, 5th year Business Management student majoring in Marketing, Level Up Assistant with Student Life, fuelled by coffee and a lover of doggos.