If someone asked you to define yourself, what would your answer be?
Strengths are inherent potentials that influence our thoughts, emotions, and actions. They define who we are and determine our uniqueness.
Wisdom, courage, perseverance, and humility are a few instances of the qualities we possess. In psychology, character strengths are defined as innate capabilities that allow us to overcome our thought blocks and encounter adversities with more positivity.
Knowing our core strengths and weaknesses is a crucial part of knowing ourselves. A person who is aware of what he is good at is more insightful and more likely to make the right decisions for himself.
Studies on the effectiveness of deploying strengths have revealed that people who can identify their strengths and use them in daily lives are happier and more content. Researchers further states that merely recognizing our powers is not enough. Unless we know when and how to implement our strengths, we cannot enhance our livelihood and well-being.
Strength can be something that we are good at, something that comes naturally to us, or something that we love doing.
Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our 3 Positive Psychology Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths, values and self-compassion and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students or employees.
You can download the free PDF here.
This article contains:
- 3 Principle Qualities That Define Us
- What Are Strengths and Weaknesses Tests?
- How Are Personal Strengths and Weaknesses Identified?
- Are Tests the Best Way to Determine What My Strengths Are?
- Why is it Important to Know What Your Weaknesses Are?
- The Pros and Cons of Strength-Based Psychometric/Psychological Testing
- The Gallup/Clifton Strengthsfinder Test
- Wingfinder by Redbull
- The Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI)
- A Look at the SDI Questions
- The VIA 24 Character Strengths Survey
- Strengths Analysis Tests for Work and Leadership
- The RichardStep Strengths and Weaknesses Aptitude Test
- 6 More Strengths Finding Projective Tests & Questionnaires (Incl. Free Options)
- 3 Tests to Identify Weaknesses
- A Take-Home Message
3 Principle Qualities That Define Us:
The strengths that we acquire from education and learning. For example, proficiency in foreign languages, computer expertise, specialized training, and technological abilities.
These are the powers that come naturally to us. They are the signature strengths that define us for who we are – for example, communication, public relations, problem-solving, decision-making, punctuality, etc.
Personal abilities are the internal capacities that determine our uniqueness. Honesty, trustworthiness, dependability, flexibility, friendliness, etc. are examples of such traits. They can be inborn, genetically acquired, or learned from the surroundings in which we grow.
Promoting the significance of strengths is a prime concern of positive psychology at present, as studies indicate that most of us are not aware of our potentials. There is a multitude of questionnaires, surveys, and evaluations that analyze our strengths and weaknesses. In this piece, we will discuss some of the most useful resources and tools that we can use for identifying and utilizing our strengths effectively.
What Are Strengths and Weaknesses Tests?
Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable us to survive with zeal. It is the only field that is based on the notion that we ‘want’ to live meaningfully and bring the best out of our work, relationships, and overall living.
As the names indicate, strengths and weaknesses tests are standardized measures to evaluate and explore our abilities, opportunities, and shortcomings. Realizing strengths and weaknesses let us identify the obstacles we may face and plan our journey accordingly.
Diving into the qualities and capacities clarifies our goals, future potential outcomes, and gives us the vision of where we should make a beeline for. Strengths and weaknesses tests are used for a variety of purposes, such as:
- Screening students in career counseling and guiding them to a field that suits them the best.
- Evaluating employees before recruiting them to a specific position.
- Group activities for assigning participants to roles according to their unique capabilities.
- Psychological interventions and developmental analysis to ideate the areas that need improvement and determine our core strengths.
How Are Personal Strengths and Weaknesses Identified?
Identifying strengths and weaknesses is an in-built motivation that we all have – all we need is the right way to rule them out. In his book ‘What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Roadmap for Reaching Your Unique Potential,’ Robert Kaplan mentioned that most of us do not have a clue of who we are and what we are capable of achieving.
He further said that assessing our weaknesses and accepting them is as important as knowing what our strengths are. Self-knowledge, as Kaplan called it, is a vital tool for improvement that can keep us updated and rightly oriented.
4 Ways to Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
To leverage our potentials, it is crucial to identify them first. Understanding where we stand firm and where we can fall weak can be the reason for our professional success and personal accomplishments.
Here are some simple ways that we can follow for estimating our signature strengths and weaknesses:
Appreciating ourselves for our efforts and achievements make us vigilant of what we do and the results our actions might bring. Acknowledging the little efforts can enhance our self-awareness and help us identify the virtues that we excel in.
2. Writing down plans
Early goal-setting and strategic management is another good way of assessing strengths. When we sit to chalk out our next steps, we automatically tend to focus on what we are good at and minimize the chances of errors.
3. Mirroring values
Identifying strengths and shortcomings becomes more comfortable when we have clarity about our core values. For example, if an ethical code of conduct is an essential aspect of someone’s professional life, that would naturally signify that morality is a strength he has.
4. Asking for feedback
An incredible method to gauge our abilities is requesting genuine criticism from individuals we stay with or work with. Seeing ourselves from another person’s viewpoint can widen our self-perception and eventually change the way we see ourselves. Asking and accepting feedback can be a game-changer when it comes to identifying strengths and weaknesses for self-improvement.
Are Tests the Best Way to Determine What My Strengths Are?
If you are looking for validated measures for evaluating what your strengths are, tests could be the right solution for you.
Psychological assessments and tools help in:
- Identifying our abilities and shortcomings.
- Enhancing self-awareness and life direction.
- Understanding the kind of profession that would suit us.
- Knowing ourselves better.
- Selecting the right career path.
- Building intrinsic motivation.
- Understanding the ‘why’ behind our achievements and failures so far.
Feedbacks and open discussions are great for understanding ourselves. But ability tests and psychological assessments help in picturing what lies ahead of us. It gives us foresight about what to do with our strengths and how to minimize our weaknesses through training and development. Besides, they are accurate, mostly quantitative, and research-oriented, which contributes to the reliability of the results obtained.
Why is it Important to Know What Your Weaknesses Are?
Weaknesses hold us back. They can be hard to let go of and are probably the reasons behind our failures. Knowing our deficits are equally important as understanding our strengths. The initial step to recognizing our shortcomings is to acknowledge that we have them. Everybody has inadequacies, but only those who can rationally accept them can outgrow and flourish in their lives.
Some common examples of weaknesses may include:
- Over-judgmental attitude
- Less empathetic
- Resistance to learn
- Inability to keep commitments
- Communication barriers
- Oversensitivity or problems with impulse control
The good news is that we can work on our weaknesses to minimize their effects on our personal and professional achievements. There are numerous options available to us for identifying the gaps, measuring their impact, and overcoming them efficaciously.
The weakness assessments and tests mentioned in the upcoming sections can help you in taking the first step forward in realizing what to improve and how to do the same. Assessing weakness has some extraordinary benefits.
- They prevent us from participating in activities that are not suitable for us.
- They are great predictors of what career options would guarantee success.
- The assessments are great tools for supervisors and leaders who want to build a successful team.
- They are shields against personal frustrations and underachievement.
The Pros and Cons of Strength-Based Psychometric/Psychological Testing
Dr. Paul Barrett, Chief Research Scientist in Cognadev, an organization dedicated to developing psychological tools and assessments, mentioned that although psychometric tests for strengths and weaknesses are objective and validated, organizations should run assessments only after evaluating their usefulness for a given purpose, as not all tests would be equally beneficial under all circumstances.
Although evaluations allow the users to check participants’ potentials and drawbacks, ruling out their effectiveness can sometimes be challenging for us.
Pros of Strength-Based Psychometric Tests
– They are accurate
Standardized measures of strengths and weaknesses usually yield accurate and objective results. They are structured, and scoring is done based on stringent norms, which increases the likelihood of giving the same output under different conditions.
– They are accessible
In most circumstances, strength and weakness tests are readily available and cheap to administer. Especially for the self-report forms, the cost for administering and scoring is minimal, which makes them excellent options for large-scale use in corporate settings.
– They are neutral and unbiased
There is no room for personal preferences or biases in objective tests. The whole process follows an open approach, and norms are set beforehand, making the results more reliable and free from individual reservations.
– They are usable at all stages
Psychometric tests are flexible and applicable for use at a variety of areas. Whether it is pre-recruitment screening, recruitment procedure, team-building activities, or other purposes, the same tests can be useful for multiple purposes.
– They are indicators of improvement
For team leaders and supervisors, using assessment tools is an excellent way of understanding the employee mindset and choosing the appropriate improvement tools for them.
– They are great for self-understanding
Besides helping team leaders, strength tests also aid the users in expanding self-awareness. Their scores indicate their suitability, coping skills, and scope for succeeding in their professional field.
Cons of Strength-based psychometric tests
– There is a scope of artificiality
Sometimes it seems hard to distinguish between authentic measures and their adopted versions. Companies might fall prey to fake methods which appear to be the same but do not yield accurate results as the initial tests. Therefore, it is vital to have some knowledge and specialization in the field before choosing and investing in web-based psychometric tests.
– It can be challenging to understand
Some objective self-report measures can be hard to guess. Especially if there is no administrator involved in the process, candidates may have little or no source for clarifying doubts, which ultimately leads to anxiety and impacts on the test performance.
– One size doesn’t fit all
A significant limitation of the psychometric strength assessments is that there is no consideration for individual differences and subjectivity. For example, cultural standards can play a crucial role in shaping our thought patterns and judgment. And while the strengths may be equivalent, the underlying individual differences may remain untouched by these measures.
– Scope for fake answers
Dishonest responses can be hard for standardized tests to predict. Substantial research and findings on the effectiveness of strength tests have indicated that if a participant chooses to mislead by answering inappropriately, there is no way that the assessment can prevent producing ineffective results.
Some strength and weakness assessments are too long and slow, making them difficult to administer on a large-scale and even more challenging to evaluate scores.
The Pros and Cons of Strength-Based Psychometric Tests at A Glance
|Psychometric Strength-Based Tests|
|1. Accurate and standardized.||1. Chances of being fake.|
|2. Flexible and accessible.||2. Requires specialized training to administer them on a large-scale.|
|3. Useful for widespread application.||3. Can be time-consuming and difficult to understand.|
|4. Minimum bias and more reliability.||4. Scope of dishonest scoring.|
|5. Mostly cost-effective and readily available.||5. Objective tests do not consider individual differences.|
Developed by Red Bull and a team of psychology professors from University College London and Columbia University New York, Wingfinder is a free personality assessment that focuses on strengths, taking around 35 minutes to complete and instantly gives you a 19-page feedback report.
Although scientifically-robust, Wingfinder offers a playful and light-hearted approach to explore four influential factors for determining employability and career success: connections, drive, thinking style, and creativity.
The interactive feedback provided at the end of the assessment provides comparisons to high-profile athletes. It could be particularly engaging for students or those in the early stages of their careers as the assessment focus on what makes you successful at work.
The Gallup/Clifton Strengthsfinder Test
Donald Clifton, an educational psychologist, and research person developed The Clifton Strengthsfinder Test in 2001. He aimed to identify the skills that made someone excel in their field, and exploit human talents in the best possible way.
Since its inception, The Strengthsfinder test underwent several modifications. The upgraded edition (StrengthsFinder 2.0) was launched in 2007 and continues to be one of the highest selling assessment tools for business and professional setups.
Although the Gallup test is not particularly useful for hiring employees, it has significant benefits in helping companies realize the value of their human power and plan practical ways of optimizing their potentials. The Clifton Strengthsfinder is an online assessment of 34 signature strengths.
Some of the essential components of the test are:
- There are 177 pairs of ‘self-descriptors’ that lie on a continuum.
- The participants choose the descriptors that they think are most suitable and explain their personality the best.
- Each pair appears for 20 seconds. The respondents should be vigilant and choose their responses within a short time window.
- On completion of the test, the results appear immediately and indicate the five best strengths ranked in order of the responses. The highest rank denotes the signature strength, and the lowest would suggest some improvement in that field.
The Gallup/ Clifton Strengthsfinder test is a reliable psychometric tool for building strong teams, assigning appropriate roles to the team members, and helping employees to nurture their skills and competencies.
The Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI)
The Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) is a popular self-improvement tool widely used in individual counseling, life coaching, and professional development programs. The SDI was introduced by Elias Hull Porter (1971), a famous American psychologist contemporary to eminent theorists like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.
Porter structured the SDI on two core concepts – Motivational Value Systems (MVS) and Conflict Sequences. There are seven MVS and thirteen conflict sequences, the unique interplay of which determines the respondent’s dispositions and drives.
SDI digs deep into the ‘why’ of our emotions and actions. It is the first choice for leaders who aim to build robust and high-performing teams. SDI considers individual differences and provides valuable insights into who we are and what we are capable of becoming.
The Strength Deployment Inventory is competent for three purposes:
- Increasing self-awareness – SDI enhances awareness by helping us identify our strengths and prioritizing them when required.
- Understanding internal motives and values – the MVS included in the SDI explore the underlying causes of our behavior.
- Effectively dealing with conflicts – SDI investigates how reactions to stress and adversities differ from person to person and what causes this individual difference.
Total SDI is a compilation of eight reliable assessments involving a variety of activities that evaluate our fortitude reliably.
A Look at the SDI Questions
SDI is fair, easy to score, and takes around 10-15 minutes for administration and evaluation. The responses are plotted graphically with colorful pointers that make the test fun and interesting for first-time users.
The questionnaire contains a series of statements such as:
- What motivates me?
- How can I enhance my values?
- How can I become more self-confident and assured?
- What are the things that I love to do?
- How can I adapt my behaviors to bring out the best in myself and others?
- How can I improve my performance in terms of business goals and achievements?
The responses in SDI are pointed in red, blue, and green, and the interpretation of scores explain the dynamic interplay of motives and conflicts in an individual.
Since this test considers individual differences, there are no right or wrong answers. The only requisite for successfully applying it is to follow the test instructions accurately and honestly answer each question.
On successful completion and scoring of the test, facilitators encourage participants to discuss their strengths and weaknesses and discover how they can upgrade themselves.
By far, the SDI is the test of choice for many corporate sectors and personality development programs, the main reason being its wide acceptability and usefulness for enhancing both personal and professional skills.
The VIA 24 Character Strengths Survey
The Values in Action survey is by far the most popular test for evaluating character strengths and knowing what they mean. The test was formulated by Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson, who established that understanding what our virtues are, is not just compelling, but also self-enhancing.
The VIA character survey is ideal for cultivating a good lifestyle and sustaining the same (Eccles & Gootman, 2002; in Peterson & Seligman, 2004). It is commonly used in corporate settings to educate employees about themselves and each other and promote a healthy work environment altogether.
There are 24 signature strengths mentioned in the VIA survey, each classified under six broad categories, as discussed below.
Seligman and Peterson (2004) stated that personal capabilities, in most instances, are the outcome of self-development programs, but they are seldom used for measuring the efficacy of the result.
The goal of an organizational orientation or training program is not just to upgrade its employees; it should equally focus on understanding how much the program could implement the skills in the participants.
And the VIA survey works exceptionally well for exercising such positive interventions.
The 24 Character Strengths in VIA Survey
|Psychometric Strength-Based Tests|
|Wisdom and Knowledge||1. Creativity
4. Love of Learning
|1. Ability to develop something unique and original.
2. Inquisitiveness, interest to know.
3. Power of rationalization and critical thinking.
4. Affinity to participate in new activities to adapt to something new.
5. Wisdom and perception to see the world as others see it.
|1. Courage, valor, fearlessness.
2. Persistence and the power to hang on during times of distress.
3. Genuinity and truthfulness. Also includes dedication and loyalty toward work and relationships.
4. The energy to live life fully and face challenges with grit and positivity.
3. Social Intelligence
|1. Power to feel and show affection to others and develop long-lasting relationships.
2. Mercifulness and empathy.
3. The ability to communicate effectively and form strong social bonds.
|1. The motivation to work as part of a team and strive to achieve group goals.
2. The virtue of treating everyone equally and be unbiased with judgments.
3. The capacity to be the face of the team and supervise others to exploit them in the best possible way.
|1. Accepting others’ shortcomings and considerate attitude.
2. Modesty and a humble nature.
3. Rational thinking and the power to logically interpret things.
4. Control over oneself, command over self-expression.
|1. Praising self and surroundings.
2. Feeling and expressing thankfulness to every small and significant aspect of life.
3. Positive future-oriented feelings, optimism.
4. Ability to take things on a light note.
5. Religious faithfulness and commitment.
Despite being one of the most useful strength tests, the VIA survey could not escape criticisms. Studies suggested that the 24 character strengths as classified in the analysis did not fit appropriately to their respective categories (MacDonald et al., 2008). Researchers indicated that many traits overlapped with the strengths of other groups, and concluded that the survey might not be reliable for use on a large-scale.
But no matter what contradictions clouded around the study, the VIA is still widely used and is undoubtedly a reliable strength-assessment tool for personal and professional purposes.
Strengths Analysis Tests for Work and Leadership
1. Leadership skills test
The leadership skills test is suitable for leaders at all levels, irrespective of their years of experience. The theoretical base of this test asserts that it is not enough to be appointed as the leader or supervisor unless we realize our responsibilities and carry them out with full conviction.
The test contains 18 statements scored on a 5-point Likert scale. The questions are relevant to leadership and easily scorable online.
2. S-W-O-T Test
SWOT is an acronym for – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It is a powerful tool for unleashing our hidden talents and discovering better ways of implementing them at work. The test is objective and contains specific questions for each of the four categories.
The result and interpretation of the data are conducted under supervised guidance and gives us a clear picture of how we are different from others and how we can use our uniqueness for personal and organizational benefits. Below is a list of some of the SWOT test statements.
|– What do you have that others don’t?
– What do you do better than others?
– How do others describe your strengths?
– What values are unique to you?
|– What are the tasks that you avoid because you don’t think you can do them?
– What do you think you are not good at?
– How do others describe your weaknesses?
– What are the personality traits that hold you back?
– What do you think are your negative/bad habits?
|– Do you consider yourself to be part of a growing industry?
– If so, how can you use your resources to take advantage of this growth?
– Is your company failing to do something?
– Is there something that your clients and customers complain about?
|– What are the roadblocks in your professional life?
– Are you a part of an unhealthy competitive environment?
– Is changing technology a threat to your current position?
– Do you feel threatened by any of your character weaknesses?
The SWOT test is also a great feedback tool besides being a standard strength test.
3. Work Strengths Questionnaire (WSQ)
The WSQ is specially designed for professional use and helps in:
- Evaluating applicants and understanding their suitability for a position.
- Organizing interviews and structuring them.
- Supporting the recruitment team with the initial screening of applicants.
- Facilitating selection and interview processes for a large number of potential employees.
- Evaluating employee competencies before assigning them to teams.
The Work Strengths Questionnaire is a wholesome tool that practically aids all the stages of the recruitment process.
4. Leadership Legacy Assessment
The impact leaders have on their team members, and the way they influence others determines their leadership legacy. This assessment is an excellent way for leaders to ascertain how much they could improve people who worked with them and how it has affected the organization as a whole.
The RichardStep Strengths and Weaknesses Aptitude Test
The RichardStep Strengths and Weakness Test (RSWAT) is an online resource that we can use for getting precognition about our merits and demerits. The test is systematic, easy to conduct, and entirely self-scorable.
One reason why the RichardStep Strengths and Weaknesses Aptitude Test is the right choice for assessing strengths is that it is directional.
While most ability tests are limited to identification and evaluation, the RichardStep test extends to guide respondents about how they can plan their moves.
6 More Strengths Finding Projective Tests & Questionnaires
1. Strengths profile
Strengths profile assessments are for managers, coaches, employees, and recruits who want to build substantial career opportunities for themselves and those they work with. The profile ranks strengths according to their utilities and indicates what areas we need to focus on improving.
2. Situational Strengths Test (SST)
Users define the Situational Strengths Test as a ‘bespoke’ solution to recruitment and employee management procedure. The test follows a practical approach and analyzes how an employee would behave in a given situation.
The situations are hypothetical but relevant to the organizational context. The test helps the respondents picture probable circumstances they may have to face at work and estimate the best ways of approaching them. Alternatively, it also gives the employers a fair idea of what to expect from a worker and decide his role accordingly.
3. Personal Strengths Inventory
The personal strengths inventory is a free online resource applicable to all. It has structured questions that investigate our current states of functioning.
4. My Strengths and qualities worksheet
This worksheet is for people who wish to build a positive self-image. Developing self-esteem is essential for realizing our strengths, and this is what the strengths and qualities worksheet focuses on. Besides being beneficial for corporate use, this assessment is also a suitable choice for therapists and counselors who try to help their clients realize their true worth.
5. Identifying your strengths worksheet
Mostly suitable for professional purposes, this assessment is a collection of activities, self-assessments, and subjective questionnaires, all of which describe our inner potentials and ways we can use them for self-improvement.
6. The High Five Test
The High Five Test is an online resource dedicated to helping people who wish to learn about their strengths and weaknesses in a professional context. With assessments and psychometric tools tailoring all aspects of our strengths and weaknesses, the high five strength assessment can be the first step forward in knowing more about yourself.
3 Tests to Identify Weaknesses
1. What is your weakness quiz
A fun, simple, and objective test for evaluating our shortcomings, the weakness quiz has a set of multiple-choice questions that describe what we think, how we feel, and how we act in certain situations. The questions are straightforward, and there are no right or wrong answers, provided we answer each question honestly and choose the options that best describe us.
2. The PlayBuzz Weakness Quiz
The Playbuzz weakness assessment is a short evaluation of personal weaknesses created by Rebecca Levy. The quiz consists of ten questions and is self-storable.
3. Strengths and Weakness self-awareness exercise
The strengths and weakness awareness exercise was part of a career support program in Zurich. The assessment attempt to explore in detail all the intricacies of our abilities and drawbacks. The forms mostly contain subjective questions with hypothetical situations, and respondents use their imagination and concrete thinking to answer each question as effectively as they can.
A Take-Home Message
Finding our strengths is as important as finding our weaknesses. It is a part of the learning curve of life and directly contributes to self-growth and improvement.
With the bunch of career choices that are accessible to us today, it is natural to get overwhelmed and go astray. Having a strong understanding of strengths and weaknesses can bring the desired change at the right time, and get us where we seek to be.
Our potentials are limitless, merely knowing them can open a whole new world of possibilities before us. To quote the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the famous American philosopher, and poet:
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our 3 Positive Psychology Exercises for free.
If you wish for more, our Positive Psychology Toolkit© contains over 300 science-based positive psychology exercises, interventions, questionnaires and assessments for practitioners to use in their therapy, coaching or workplace.
- Buckingham and Clifton (2001). Now, Discover Your Strengths: New York.
- Park, Peterson & Seligman. (2006) The Journal of Positive Psychology, 118-129.
- Brdar and Kashdan, (2009): Character strengths and well-being in Croatia- An empirical investigation of structure and correlates.
- Park, Peterson & Seligman. (2004): Strengths of character and well-being.
- Kaiser, Robert (2009). The Perils of Accentuating the Positive.
- Snyder & Lopez. (2007): Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths.
- Macdonald, Bore and Munro (2008): Values in action scale and the Big Five.
- Peterson, Seligman (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. p. 106.
- Rath (2007). StrengthsFinder: Gallup Press.
- Soria, Roberts, and Alex P. Reinhard (2015): First-Year College Students Strengths Awareness and Perceived Leadership Development, Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice. Extracted from – http://wbu.gmu.edu/wp-content/uploads/First-Year-College-Students-Strengths-Awareness-Research.pdf