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Turn Your Biggest Strengths into Better Interview Frameworks

interview tips May 12, 2022

What if I told you the one secret that could change how you feel about using interview frameworks? Well, it’s actually pretty simple. The one big interview secret is to focus on your strengths. 

Of course, this isn’t really much of a secret. If you have been watching my videos or reading my blog articles, you know I always recommend that you lean into your strengths. Having a strengths framework for your interview is a great way to showcase and focus on your best skills.

One of the most common questions I get asked is: Which framework should I use? The truth is that the framework concepts you use should be unique to you. Your frameworks should be built around your strengths. There are some common framework techniques and tips you can utilize as a foundation, but ultimately you have to find what works best for you. Below are some of the key framework items to consider:

Item #1—The Basics

Let’s start by clarifying what a framework is. Frameworks are used when answering hypothetical/open-ended questions. A framework is an outline or approach that candidates should use as an organizational tool to present a high-level solution to the interviewer. Simply put, frameworks help you provide a very structured and focused approach to your answers.

Without a framework, your answer will likely be disorganized. Unless you are in that very rare group of people who crush every interview despite no preparation, you will benefit greatly from using frameworks.

Item #2—Strengths Identification

The first objective is to identify your strengths. This breaks down into three key steps:

  1. Generic Identification—Write down what you believe to be all your strengths. This can be a process of self-identification, and you can also ask others about what they feel your biggest strengths are. Ask them simply: What do you think are my three greatest strengths?
  2. Role Identification—Next, you will want to further explore the specific role and understand the key needs of the position. Then, you can determine how your strengths align with the job.
  3. Combined Identification—You are simply combining steps 1 and 2 here. You are looking to find the crossovers. Identify which strengths of yours are best suited for the position. Look for some smaller nuances, as well, such as any skills that are role-specific.

Item #3—Cadence

Remember to lead with your strengths. Of course, you will ask your clarifying questions first. Then, you can use a transitional statement, such as:

“A few items we might want to focus on include goals, data, collaboration and risk. Sue, I think we should start by focusing on data, but is there another area you want to focus on?”

In this example, you are starting with data because you know it’s your biggest strength. Rarely will the interviewer pivot you away from your first recommendation, and you may only end up covering one framework in your answer. That’s why you lead with your biggest strength. The other concepts presented should also be strengths. This way, you are still in good shape even if the interviewer selects another framework concept for you to focus on.

Item #4—Practice

Now that you have identified your core strengths, you need to see how it sounds as a framework. The goal is to see if these concepts actually work. Imagine simple hypothetical questions around specific needs in the job description.

EXAMPLE: Let’s say you are interviewing for a Customer Engineer role at Google. You know data migration is going to be a big part of that job description. Put that into a practice question to get yourself prepared with your frameworks:

“I want you to imagine you need to conduct a data migration. What would you do?”

Create a few practice questions like this, and it will help you match the right framework concept and structure an effective answer that highlights your biggest strengths related to the role. 

Item #5—Lesser Strengths

You’ve practiced frameworks to showcase your best strengths. Now, let’s talk about some of your lesser strengths. You will likely find that just focusing on one primary strength makes your answer feel a little incomplete. You need to prioritize a few other items and identify some secondary strengths you can utilize to enhance your role-specific answers. There may be some concepts you have a good foundational knowledge of, but aren’t quite the items you want to lead with. You want to introduce these lesser strengths, especially if you think they are critical to the position.

Item #6—Not Strengths

You also have to look at the job description to identify items that might not be strengths for you. Using our data migration example above, let’s say that budgeting is one of the job requirements but not something you are as good at as data or collaboration.

In this case, you probably won’t want to introduce it in your primary framework. However, it can be worked carefully into your solution. You might mention that budget is a critical item to address as part of your solution, but you don’t push it as the main focus. This allows you to address more specific needs of the position without having to focus too much on one of your weaknesses.

Watch my full video on this topic below:

For more interview coaching tips and resources, visit my YouTube channel, follow my blog or sign up on Practice Interviews.

Jeff H. Sipe

Jeff has interviewed over 1000 people in his career and previously spent five years working at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. You likely found Jeff through YouTube and you will find the same level of dedication in his one on one practice interview sessions.

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