You re-took the Top 5 CliftonStrengths assessment (often called StrengthsFinder) and your Signature Themes (i.e., the 5 themes that get reported out) have changed!

This prompts you to wonder: “What’s going on?!”  

The questions behind that question

When people let me know that their Signature Themes have changed since the last time they took the assessment, there are usually a few sub-questions embedded in that statement:

  • What prompted my results to change?
  • Can I trust the assessment?
  • Should I worry that I have had some otherwise undetected personality shift?

I’ll address these below.

Should I worry that my Top 5 CliftonStrengths themes have changed?

No, absolutely not.  It is highly unlikely that you’ve undergone a major change in who you are. As part of normal adult development, however, there are usually some bigger changes that happen after early adulthood. Therefore, if you first took the StrengthsFinder assessment in your early 20s, you can expect changes if you’re taking it again after a while and after age 25.

What IS going on when my Signature Themes change?

When you re-took the assessment, you will not have answered all 177 questions exactly like you did the previous time. As a result, your themes shuffle around a little bit.

If you only have access to the reports that are generated from the Top 5 CliftonStrengths assessment (vs having your “Full 34 Report”–the report that indicates all 34 themes in order), all you will see is that your Top 5 have changed. This could lead you to believe that your results are vastly different than the first time. In fact, Gallup research has found that, among those who re-take the assessment, there is usually only a minor rearrangement of the top eight or ten themes (Asplund, 2019).


If you’re on the fence about the utility, validity, or reliability of the CliftonStrengths (StrengthsFinder) assessment versus another tool that you’ve been considering, you can trust the instrument.

You can have confidence in your assessment results; the researchers at Gallup have studied data associated with 25 million users worldwide and have found good stability in the results (see my post on “Should I re-take the CliftonStrengths assessment?“).

Remember: the differences in your results are normally only minor rearrangements among your top eight to ten themes.

Finally, the StrengthsFinder themes that are in your top 10-12 are either always or almost always activated–i.e., showing up for you (Collison, 2017). What this means is that even if your top 12 themes shuffle around a bit, there are no significant implications of this because you’re always using those themes.

Have questions? Reach out to me to discuss how CliftonStrengths can help you in your career. I love to help people discover and apply their strengths at work.

Photo credit: Monsterkoi from Pixabay

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