When you’re in a job interview and the interviewer asks you, “What are you weak at?”, try not to answer with “I care too much. I get too involved with the work. I can’t maintain a work-life balance. I always put work first…” (And then you sob a little for effect.) It’s B.S. Everybody in the room knows it.
There’s more bullsh_t served up in job interviews than in any other human interaction in the history of civilization. But here’s the thing. I don’t think people are outright lying when they don’t admit to any particular weaknesses. I just think most people have never looked at him or herself and said “Damn, I really suck at _____”
Here’s what I suck at.
I don’t like being the guy who has to build business systems and business models. I’m bad at it because it bores me. It bores me because what happens down the road is less exciting than what happens tomorrow. I lean much more towards execution than planning. This makes me the classic number 2 guy. The wing-man. The Chewbacca to your Han Solo (though significantly less hirsute). By knowing that about myself, I know exactly what roles I will thrive in. By acknowledging my weaknesses, I know where to better employ my strengths.
Knowing where you’re weak is knowing what your value proposition is. Knowing where you’re weak is knowing where you need to improve. And most importantly, knowing where you’re weak, lets you manage other people’s expectations of you. Refusing to admit that you have any inherent weaknesses means you’re either completely blind or just plain arrogant. And seeing that you’re neither Bill Gates or the guy who invented the Huayra, you’re not perfect. Ironically, those who are most successful seem to offer up the most faults about themselves and admit to the most failures.
Every pro-ball team has superstars and role players. Guys who excel at certain skills play specific positions. Even the superstars can’t do it all by themselves (Crosby needs to pass the puck to someone at some point). Not everybody is a superstar, at least not at everything. Same in the workplace.
By the same token, just because someone hasn’t been given a chance to do something, it doesn’t mean they can’t. You might have folks in shipping who can outsell every single one of your account managers…if given a chance. But sadly, since they entered the company from a different door, they may never get that chance. Meanwhile you still have under-performing sales guys who refuse to admit to flaws in their game.
So back to the interview.
“What are you weak at?”
“I’m working hard to improve _____. Fortunately it’s not listed as a major requirement on the job description you wrote. Nonetheless, I’m committed to improving all aspects of myself.”
If you can say this and mean it, you’re a better person for the job already.