Your character strengths are the qualities and capabilities you possess that make you a valuable member of society. They include qualities like creativity, honesty, and generosity – qualities that society and, it follows, business schools hold in high regard.
Assessing your own Character Strengths can be difficult from the “inside looking out.” Fortunately, psychologists have developed a diagnostic tool for us that has proven to be remarkably accurate in identifying a person’s Character Strengths.
The VIA Survey of Character is a 240 multiple-choice question assessment and takes about 30 minutes to complete. To take the free online test, you will need to register on the VIA website by clicking here.
Figure 4: VIA Institute on Character Website (https://www.viacharacter.org/SURVEYS.aspx)
Once you’ve completed the test, you will receive a free results report by email that ranks your Character Strengths from one to twenty-four. You are welcome to purchase a more comprehensive “VIA Interpretive Report” from the website, but the free report is sufficient for our purposes.
Let’s take a quick look at a screen shot of a portion of the survey instrument.
Figure 5: Sample Questions from the VIA Survey (https://www.viacharacter.org/SURVEYS.aspx)
Once you’ve registered and started the 30-40 minute survey, you’ll be presented with 240 separate statements. For each statement, you are asked whether or not the statement is a valid description of you.
For example, you will be presented with a statement like “I find the world a very interesting place.”
You will then rate how well this statement describes you on the following sliding scale:
- Very Much Like Me
- Like Me
- Unlike Me
- Very Much Unlike Me
Don’t over-think each question! Your first, instinctive response is the one you should record. It goes without saying that you need to be completely honest in your answers if you want to enjoy the full benefit of this exercise.
Let’s look at a screenshot of the report you’ll receive when you’re done.
Figure 6: Sample Report Output from VIA Survey (https://www.viacharacter.org/SURVEYS.aspx)
The report you’ll receive from the VIA Survey will be similar to the one above. It will show your character strengths in order from #1 (your top character strength) down to #24 (your lowest ranked character strength).
Begin by asking yourself if you feel the top-ranked Character Strengths are a good representation of your positive attributes. You will use these insights as Content Building Blocks for your essays and when shaping the response to possible interview questions. The VIA survey results provide an additional set of insights about where your strengths lie and a guideline for focusing your application content.
When it comes to communicating your Character Strengths the adage “show them, don’t tell them” applies. Telling the admissions committee that you possess creativity and ingenuity is never as powerful as showing them that you do by sharing an example of your creativity and ingenuity in action. Use the outputs of this report as a guide for selecting stories and examples for your essays. By doing so, you will offer substantive proof that you have qualities that will enrich the MBA community that you are applying to join.
Unit Review: Discover Your Character Strengths
- Character Strengths are qualities that society and, it follows, business schools hold in high regard.
- The VIA Survey of Character will provide insight into your top Character Strengths.
- Don’t over-think the survey questions! Your first, instinctive response is the one you should record.
- Use the insights you discover about your Character Strengths as Content Building Blocks for your essays and interview answers.
- The most convincing way to communicate your Character Strengths is to show them in action in the stories you tell the admissions committee.