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Knowing Your Strengths and How to Use Them Effectively

October 22, 2015

By Kate Shaw

If you’re a Mason graduate student, it’s quite possible you’ve heard the words StrengthsFinder uttered around campus from time to time. It’s also possible that you’ve already taken the StrengthsFinder assessment. For those who haven’t, the Gallup StrengthsFinder is a personality assessment, similar to the Myers-Briggs, that helps you identify your top areas of strength. Along with your strengths comes an explanation of each strength and how you might use it in everyday life. The assessment is free to all Mason students as part of the university’s Well-Being Initiative.

I took the StrengthsFinder assessment during my first semester at Mason and was intrigued by the results. Because I was a staff member, I completed a training on how to apply those strengths to my workplace. One interesting thing I took away from the training was the idea that while many people tend to focus on their weaknesses and how to improve them, it might be more productive to be aware of and focus on one’s strengths. It seems obvious, right? Using our strengths will help us succeed, but I think a lot of times, we tend to focus on the negative.

There are many benefits to taking the StrengthsFinder assessment. First and foremost, the assessment breaks down your strengths into categories (such as “relational” or “influential” strengths). Knowing these strengths and how you can utilize them can allow you to learn how to work most effectively both at work and at school. However, the biggest benefit, at least for me, is that the assessment helped me gain a greater sense of self-awareness, especially because my results showed strengths that I didn’t necessarily know I possessed.

Another great benefit of StrengthsFinder is that the results can be extremely helpful during a job interview. You know that pesky job interview question where the interviewer asks what your greatest strength (or five) is? Well, now when you respond to that question, you’ll have the science to back it up!

Kate Shaw is an alumni of George Mason University’s Higher Education master’s program.

Edited by Andrew J. Quillen, 10/17/2017

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