The worst interview question I have had to date:
Interviewer—“Name three of your biggest weaknesses.”
ME (internal dialogue)—My weaknesses? But I’m supposed to sell myself in an interview, not shoot myself in the foot! And three!? I prepared one—only one, which I am now blanking on, because I’m panicking!
And then all my answers are the WRONG ones—and yes, I do manage to profoundly shoot myself in the foot (or heel, I suppose).
Has this interview question ever stumped you? Don’t let it! Here’s the thing. That question is designed to see if we are aware of our weaknesses for one very important reason—to see if we are addressing them and working to turn them from weaknesses to something closer to a strength. Everyone has a weakness and no one is out to get you to fess up (even though it might feel like it).
It is not easy to identify and face our own weaknesses. And some of us have multiple weaknesses plaguing us (at least Achilles only had the one heel to worry about). We avoid our weaknesses because we are scared of them—scared that they could cost us a job, or a promotion, or expose us to ridicule or manipulation. I think too many people react by putting up a front and acting strong and ignoring the problem. No one wants to be weak or fess up to it, but ignoring a weakness means it never goes away.
As I have stated before, fears need to be acknowledged, because a they often alert us to opportunities; thus weaknesses are just another fear that need to be recognized in order for us to see where we need to improve. For example, if you play a sport and you are really good with your right hand, what do you spend time practicing on? You focus on your left hand, since it is the area that needs the most work. If a structure has a weak joint, does the architect add more support to the already strong joints? Of course not; he reinforces the weakest areas to ensure they don’t buckle.
Let me offer an example. Your public speaking is weak and you know it. You also know that public speaking is something you should get better at in order to do well at work. How can you address the issue? Start taking a course in public speaking. That is what an interviewer would want to hear.
Weaknesses breed fear and a lack of self confidence. It takes courage and determination to face them and start working to change them. It may take a lot of work. The LESSON: Weakness is fixable. Weaknesses tell you where you need to improve. Your GOAL: Acknowledge your weaknesses start addressing them one at a time.
So share your thoughts–how is your weakness directing your actions to help you become a better you?
Check out this post on Killer J Blog! About Achilles, the “bad ass” and striving to be like him! (also the source for the image in this post)