If you’re above the age of 16, you have probably had the pleasure of participating in a job interview. That harrowing 30-60 minutes where you are on trial to convince someone or a small group of people you are worthy enough to join their ranks. Many interviewees show up well polished and well rehearsed. They are prepared to handle the most daunting of technical questions and prove they will take the organization from current mediocrity to new heights. The more advanced you are in your career the more likely it is that the interview may follow a sequence in seniority and complexity.
At some point in every interview process, two questions come up that seem harmless enough but can derail even the best prepared:
Some people find it difficult to discuss the things they’re good at. There can be a delicate balance between confidence and arrogance. Sometimes the answers are just plain awful: “My strength is I’m a people person. I really care about my customers.”
And who wants to put a spotlight on our weaknesses? Here are a few good ones I’ve heard while interviewing candidates for a large financial institution:
“My weakness is I care too much.”
“My biggest challenge is I am so dedicated, that sometimes my co-workers having trouble keeping up.”
And my personal, no-kidding, favorite:
“My own success is my greatest weakness. My last boss couldn’t help but think I was after his job.”
I had to hire that guy out of curiosity and for pure entertainment value…that’s another story for another time.
It can be difficult to answer those two questions. Alas, if I only knew then what I know now. One of the more practical applications of learning your behavioral preferences and blind spots is the ability to convey them to teammates, friends, spouses, children, and yes interviewers.
“What are my strengths? Well I have had the opportunity to complete a self-assessment and what was clear from the process is that I value action. I take pride in demonstrating competency and getting results. I like to seize opportunities when they present themselves for the good of the organization. I am clear with my co-workers about what I expect and I give my supervisors and co-workers the opportunity to expect the same from me.”
“My weaknesses? In this self-assessment of my behavioral preferences, it was clear that I could improve my diplomacy and tact when things aren’t moving at a pace I’m comfortable with. Using a less friendly approach could impact how I’m received by the team and create a missed opportunity. Thanks to the assessment, it is no longer a blind spot and it is now a permanent part of my development plan”