What Is the CliftonStrengths Test and Is It Worth Taking?

Performance Coaching5 min read
When to Take the CliftonStrengths Test

The CliftonStrengths test (previously known as the Clifton StrengthsFinder) is a Gallup strengths test designed to help you identify and cultivate your natural skillset. The test presents you with a series of 177 questions posed as a pair of statements at either end of a spectrum. For example, the two statements might be “I am a sensitive person” and “I am a logical person.” You have 20 seconds per question to select where you think you fall between the two statements. The test as a whole lasts approximately 30 minutes.

After you complete the assessment, you will receive a personalized strengths report containing a list of your top strengths along with some information about how to understand your strengths and use them to their fullest potential. Over 26 million people have taken Gallup’s CliftonStrengths test since it was developed in 1998, and there are likely at least a few good reasons for you to take it as well. If you’re considering taking the CliftonStrengths test, you should understand the ways the test could benefit you and the ways it probably won’t.

Should You Take the CliftonStrengths Test?

The CliftonStrengths test can help you better understand your strengths and how to use them, which is valuable knowledge in every part of life. Here are a few scenarios in which you might benefit from taking the test:

You are unsure of your career trajectory

The Gallup StrengthsFinder test is a great tool for someone who is struggling to determine what steps to take next in their career. This could be a student or recent graduate entering the workforce for the first time, or someone who is considering a career change because they feel stuck in a job they dislike. 

Strengths finder tests are sometimes confused with personality tests. But unlike a personality test, which offers passive insights regarding the way you think and behave, a strengths finder test pinpoints your strongest skills and provides actionable feedback about the best ways to leverage them for personal improvement. Taking the CliftonStrengths test is a great way to learn how you can use your innate strengths to guide your career choices and propel yourself in the direction you want to go. 

You want to find greater fulfilment in your work

Maybe you’re confident in your career choices, but you’re having a hard time finding any satisfaction in your work. You certainly wouldn’t be alone. One study found that only 13% of workers are satisfied with their work experiences. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to finding fulfilment in your job, but most of us are happier at work when we get to do the things we’re good at. 

The CliftonStrengths test can help you identify your strongest skills so you can aim for the roles within your organization that allow you to use those skills to their fullest potential. By learning about your strengths, you can learn to recognize opportunities to use them—and when you get to spend your time at work using your strengths, You’re more likely to feel satisfied with your job.

You want to improve yourself

The CliftonStrengths Test was originally developed by Don Clifton as a method of studying what’s right with people instead of what’s wrong with people. The test is not designed to show you how to fix your weaknesses, but rather to improve your awareness of your strengths and show you how to build on them. This makes it perfect for anyone who wants to improve themselves for any reason, whether in their career or their personal life.

The test’s positive approach to self-improvement also makes it ideal for perfectionists, because it forces you to focus on your strengths instead of your flaws. Clifton believed there is more value in furthering your strengths than fixating on your weaknesses, and that philosophy is reflected in his test. If you often find yourself fretting over your failures instead of leveraging your strengths, you could benefit from the guidance and fresh perspective the CliftonStrengths test can offer.

When Shouldn’t You Take the CliftonStrengths Test?

The CliftonStrengths test is beneficial in many situations, but it isn’t always the answer. Here are a few scenarios in which taking the test may not be worth it:

You are looking for career recommendations

The CliftonStrengths test is not designed to provide career advice—it’s meant to aid individual development in all areas of your life. There is certainly value in understanding your strengths when making career decisions, and the test can provide you with the self-awareness to seek out positions where you can use your talents to their full potential, but it isn’t a career advisor. It can help you learn about yourself and reveal strengths that can be leveraged in your professional life, but how you use those strengths to influence your career is ultimately up to you.

You want to leverage your test results to get a job

The results of your CliftonStrengths test are not empirical evidence of ability or qualification, so they probably won’t do you much good on a resume as a reason to hire you. While they are widely regarded as a reliable measure of your personal strengths, the categories the test defines are somewhat ambiguous because they are intended to be insights that help you learn about yourself, not scores or ratings. There is nothing wrong with highlighting your strengths on a resume or in a job interview, but don’t expect your CliftonStrengths results to be taken as scientific evidence of your abilities.

So Is the CliftonStrengths Test Worth Taking?

The CliftonStrengths test is a fantastic tool to increase your self-awareness and help you grow as an individual. By taking it, you can identify your strengths so you can focus on cultivating them and reaching your full potential in all aspects of life. 

However, the test is not a horoscope that will tell you specifically which career path is best for you, and it is not a hard indicator of skill in any particular area.

If you want to improve yourself for just about any reason, taking the CliftonStrengths test is worth it. The results will likely teach you something new about yourself and show you how to use your strengths to make positive changes in your life. But keep in mind that your results will not tell you what career is right for you or provide you with any special qualifications. If you are looking for either of these outcomes, you’re better off not taking the test.

Get 1:1 advice from career experts

Nelson Dellis

starting at $50

Nelson Dellis

Grandmaster of Memory,
5 x USA Memory Champion

Learn how to
improve memory

Nelson Dellis is a 5 x USA Memory Champion and Grandmaster of Memory. He is regarded as one of the world's foremost memory experts. Nelson is also the Founder and CEO of ...

  • Connect with Nelson and learn the techniques that help you memorize anything

  • Discuss how to improve your memory, leverage memory for career success, train your mind

  • Get Nelson's advice tailored to your needs

Katharene Johnson

starting at $30

Katharene Johnson

VP – Activision Blizzard,
HR Industry Expert

Big tech career
and HR advice

Katharene Johnson is the VP of Human Resources at Activision Blizzard. She has over 15 years of experience in the gaming and entertainment industry, working for both smal...

  • Connect with Katharene and get advice on big tech, the gaming industry, and HR

  • Discuss how to develop a successful company culture, hire and retain the best people, break into tech and gaming

  • Get Katharene's advice tailored to your needs

Darren McBurnett

starting at $30

Darren McBurnett

Retired Navy SEAL,
Motivational Speaker

Tips & tricks on
becoming a SEAL

On the heels of a 24-year career as a Navy SEAL, Darren McBurnett has become an accomplished speaker and motivator, presenting to companies and groups including CDW, Budw...

  • Connect with Darren and learn about becoming a Navy SEAL

  • Ask about careers in the military, how to prep for SEAL tests, going through the intake process

  • Get Darren's advice tailored to you and your specific situation