Fidelity International recently changed its graduate selection process to one based on strengths rather than competencies. TARGETjobs caught up with Dave Andrews and Brian Sinclair, early careers talent acquisition managers at Fidelity, to find out what this means for you.
The competency-based interviews Fidelity previously used assessed whether candidates had the basic ability to work at the asset management firm. By contrast, strengths-based interviews help Fidelity’s recruiters to get a sense of your future potential. As Dave says, ‘We’ve deliberately moved away from a process where we rely on competency-based questions. We’re much more interested in the core strengths that motivate someone in the workplace.’
For its 2019 graduate intake onwards, Fidelity introduced strengths-based assessments at various stages of the application process: the pre-recorded video interview, the face-to-face (or Skype) interview and the assessment centre.
Example graduate interview questions at Fidelity
‘A lot of the questions are hypothetical in structure,’ says Dave. ‘Whereas a typical competency-based question might start “Give me an example of a time when you…”, a strengths-based question would be more around “Let’s imagine a situation in which… How would you respond to that? How would you feel?”’
‘We’ll also ask motivational questions because we are looking for people who genuinely want to work here,’ Dave adds. For example, Brian says that he often asks candidates questions such as: ‘Why do you want to work here? What do you know about the organisation?’. Find out more about demonstrating your motivation at your Fidelity graduate interview.
How to succeed in Fidelity’s strengths-based interviews
1. Draw upon a broad range of examples
The benefit of strengths-based interviews is that you don’t need to use your previous experience to support your answers. ‘While we’re interested to learn about your previous experiences, we don’t rely predominantly on previous professional experience as an indicator of your potential for the job,’ says Dave. ‘Students shouldn’t feel constrained if they’ve not had the good fortune of having previous professional experience.’
Strengths-based questions such as ‘What would your perfect day look like?’ or ‘If a colleague was struggling to make a complex decision, what would you do to help?’ don’t explicitly ask you for an example. However, when your interviewer at Fidelity asks you this type of question, it’s a good idea to use relevant examples from your previous experience because this shows initiative and helps you convey your enthusiasm more effectively. Remember that you can take these examples from any area of your life, not just formal work experience: volunteering, leading a sports team or organising independent travel, for example.
Fidelity welcomes graduates with a wide range of past experiences. ‘Maintaining relevance to the market comes through innovation, so we don’t want our entire intake to be indoctrinated in the way that we’ve done things previously,’ Dave says. Diversity of thought is vital in the asset management industry; this is also why graduates from any degree discipline are encouraged to apply.
2. Be true to yourself
Strengths-based interviews give Fidelity’s recruiters an insight into how candidates instinctively think and are meant to draw out your true, genuine responses, so don’t worry about coming up with a ‘perfect’ answer. The key to giving yourself the best chance of success is surprisingly simple: be yourself.
‘Candidates who try to presume what we might be looking for typically come across as less authentic,’ says Dave. Brian agrees: ‘What we want to see is your answer to the question. Obviously don’t be silly or overly casual: we want the best version of you, the professional version of you. But don’t overthink; just be natural about it.’
3. Show that you are committed to developing your career at Fidelity
Fidelity is looking for graduates who will thrive there and want to stay for the long term. ‘A lot of the people who will apply to us are really bright individuals who might be able to convince themselves as well as us that they’d be a great fit,’ says Dave. ‘And that’s fine, but then two years down the line they won’t be happy and they’ll start looking for other opportunities and that doesn’t really serve them or us.’
For this reason, it’s important to do plenty of research before you apply to make sure that you feel enthusiastic about the prospect of working at Fidelity, and this will help to show the recruiters that you are genuinely well suited to the role. Dave says: ‘Candidates who are most successful in the early stages of the process maintain a high level of enthusiasm for the company and for the role they’ve applied for. A lot of that comes from understanding the depth of the role and the breadth of the company.’
When you are asked about your motivations for applying to Fidelity, focus on something you’ve learned that personally interested you. Brian explains: ‘You might mention one or two key facts, but your third and fourth facts should be something that really resonates with you, such as a news article or something you picked up when you spoke to someone at the organisation, or something we’ve done in the community that you really appreciate.’
Quick tips for the video interview
Fidelity introduced video interviews for its 2019 graduate intake, replacing the telephone interview that was previously used. Dave explains: ‘It’s a pre-recorded video format, and there’ll be a combination of strengths-based questions and motivation questions.’
Dave offers the following advice for candidates preparing for the video interview:
- Take into account what is visible on the screen; for example, make sure the background is appropriate.
- Dress appropriately, as you would do if it was a face-to-face interview.
- Test your technology beforehand and make sure your microphone is switched on.
- Make sure you’ve got enough time and can go from start to finish without needing to stop or reset anything.
As with other strengths-based interviews, the key is not to overthink your answers. ‘It’s fine to look at the job and think about the sorts of things your strengths might be useful for, but if you over-rehearse it’s going to sound inauthentic. Really throw yourself into the question and try to enjoy the experience.’
Quick tips for the assessment centre
Fidelity’s assessment centre will also become more geared towards assessing strengths rather than competencies. Brian says: ‘We’re hoping the new assessment centre will be exciting and engaging but also give a sense of what it’s like to work here, because we’re looking to identify someone who will be successful in Fidelity. Participate in the day and give it a good old shot, whatever exercise it is – be it an interview, one-to-one discussion or group exercise. Get as much out of the day as possible. If you’re overly reserved and hold things back a little bit, we’re not seeing the full you, you’re not being fully authentic and we don’t get to fully assess you.’
- The graduate's guide to assessment centres
- How to be your best self at graduate assessment centres
- Group exercises at graduate assessment centres
One final word of reassurance
Fidelity’s strengths-based selection process has been developed to find out whether it’s the best place for you as well as whether you are a good fit. If you’re unsuccessful in applying for a role at Fidelity, it’s a sign that you wouldn’t have been happy there anyway, according to Dave. ‘As long as you’re genuine throughout the application process and you have a sense of what you really want, then if you don’t get the job it’s probably because you’re not right for the company and it’s not right for you either.’