There is a lot of focus for people today on getting the hang of job (or university) interview technique, books have been written and people from school-kids to the queue at the dole office are encouraged to prepare themselves for certain stock questions.
Now I haven’t done that many interviews in my life (2 for jobs – which I didn’t get & 5 different university based ones – all of which I did pass) but I have never been asked any of those stock questions. In the future maybe my life in the corporate (post-doctoral) world will involve these things but til then I have found a different use for some of them: A new way of framing challenges to set patterns of thought.
The question “What is your key strength and what is your biggest weakness? (Give Examples)” Allows a lot of scope for self-criticism, but if you are forced to frame your answer from the point of view of wanting that job you may be able to learn more positive things even about your own weaknesses.
So what can I learn?
Well, Once upon a time I would have said that my greatest strength was my empathy which makes me good at judging people and persuading them to do things because I am able to work out what is important to them and how they are being affected by the world. Now though I don’t see that as such a great strength, partly because I have become a little more impatient (I don’t suffer fools gladly) and partly because I feel it has sometimes had a detrimental effect on my mental health. Instead I shall choose my integrity – I am honest, perhaps to a fault, I keep my promises and secrets faithfully and I am committed to doing things properly.
This leads to my confession of greatest weakness – perfectionism. I hold myself to high standards and get angry with myself if I don’t meet them, sometimes this leads to procrastination, sometimes to being slow to complete tasks and sometimes simply to bouts of depression. In order to manage my mood and manage my time more effectively I need to be aware of this tendency and use it to my advantage.
Food for thought?