Do strengths measure up?

Nicky Garcea (Consulting Director at Capp, Coventry, UK)
Stephen Isherwood (Senior Manager, Graduate Recruitment at Ernst & Young, London, UK)
Alex Linley (Founding Director at Capp, Coventry, UK)

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Publication date: 22 February 2011



This paper sets out to draw comparisons and make linkages between strengths and competency methodologies. Whereas some authors have seen the strengths approach as a revolution in human resources (HR), the authors of this paper see it more as a natural evolution. The paper aims to overview the strengths approach as well as presenting a case study of strengths‐based graduate recruitment from the Big Four professional services firm, Ernst & Young.


The strengths‐based approach to recruitment is described in general, and the particular approach taken to graduate recruitment at Ernst & Young is outlined. Rather than assessing for generic competencies, strengths‐based recruitment seeks to identify the natural strengths of individuals that are aligned to the role for which they are applying. Assessors are trained to look for energy and authenticity, together with evidence of high performance of the strength.


The strengths‐based graduate recruitment project at Ernst & Young delivered a 15 percent increase in the number of candidates de‐selected at first interview, together with a 12 percent increase in the number of candidates appointed following assessment center, compared with the previous competency approach.

Practical implications

Strengths‐based graduate recruitment provides a robust and reliable methodology for attracting, selecting and appointing the best candidates for the role. It delivers a better candidate experience and builds a more positive and differentiated employer brand.


Ernst & Young is one of the first UK organizations to use strengths‐based graduate recruitment systematically in this way The strengths methodology not only supports its interviewing and assessment centers, but also is used throughout its campus events and through attraction and candidate engagement with an online strengths tool developed and managed by Capp.



Garcea, N., Isherwood, S. and Linley, A. (2011), "Do strengths measure up?", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 5-11.

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