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It's a cliche, I know, and I've read that if someone actually asks you about your greatest weakness in an interview, you should say "this company is obviously boring and unable to think outside the box, you can't even ask unique questions! This is no place for me!" and storm out.



But I got to thinking about another good answer, if I were to answer this question, or ask someone this question.

I think a good answer would start with the words "There's a guy..."

"There's a guy on my team who, if you gave him a 1000 page report to go through, he will calmly just sit down and pick up page 1 and a month later report back with the most detailed, thorough review. I wish I had that patience. I have worked hard on being detail-oriented, and when I have to be, I've got strategies now... focus for four hours, then give myself a reward of going out to check out the production line is going. Summarize what I'm doing in a powerpoint to imagine that I get to give someone else a high level review. But it hasn't come naturally to me."

I would like hearing an answer like this because it shows that the person 1) pays attention to people 2) thinks about how to leverage the strengths of others 3) is trying to correct for their own shortfalls - all good things.

"There's a guy on my team who can sit through the most boring meeting, and stay totally focused, just looks at the speaker with the upmost respect even if they're droning on and on and everyone else is tearing out their eyes. I wish I could maintain that focus. I'm more likely the person who stands up and says WE NEED TO TAKE THIS TOPIC OFFLINE and when I say that, 8 out of the 10 in the room thank me, but I know that's not always appropriate so I've learned to hold back and really feel out for what's appropriate."

Answers like that.

I got to thinking about this, and googled it, and interview experts agree that the best thing to bring to this questions is a story about your growth - a mistake you've made that you course-corrected on so now it's cool. So they're with me. But the team thing is so important and so overlooked in engineers. I really like asking college students about their senior design teams and how everyone got along - the answers are always facinating. People always come in with this technical story, and that's okay, but we keep digging, because getting along with people is a bigger deal than they think.

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
davidkevin
Mar. 15th, 2016 09:33 pm (UTC)
If I were still in the job market, I would have to honestly say that I chronically underestimate the length of time it takes me to do things, even down to getting to a bus on time. It seems to be a lifelong problem which I have only learned to solve by allowing an amount of time which seems utterly outlandish to anyone else, and is more time than even I can "Ooh, shiny!" away.

On the other hand, if the last becomes a habit, then like Montgomery Scott on Star Trek, one can get the reputation as a "miracle worker" for solving problems in less time than estimated. Too bad I learned that idea too late.

Good to be talking with you again. Are you also on Facebook?

Edited at 2016-03-15 09:34 pm (UTC)
spacefem
Mar. 16th, 2016 12:00 am (UTC)
I am also very overoptimistic when it comes to dates. bad habit. but it's an art I really can't figure out... especially as a lead, because if you give your team the utterly outlandish "SURELY we can make this date!" then that's what they'll work towards, if you advertise a date way too soon everybody works hard but misses it and you get punished, so what's a girl to do.

I'm not really on facebook as myself, barely 100 friends, not all that interesting, but I do have a page that I update with memes and thoughts (need to have more thoughts... it's a goal)

http://facebook.com/spacefem
binaryprecision
Mar. 16th, 2016 03:45 pm (UTC)
This is mine too, and it plays into another of my bad habits which is signing up to do too much. I underestimate how long it'll take me to do things, so I think I have extra time to fill and sign up for more. At the end I'm just overwhelmed and late anyway. :-/
astrogeek01
Mar. 16th, 2016 02:57 am (UTC)
Hmmm I would love to share some of these thoughts with my students if that's all right? Maybe not this semester (we're too deep in) but at the beginning of one, so that they learn to effing talk to each other.

IDK maybe now too. I've got a table that just doesn't work together and it shows in their exams.
filmstar
Mar. 16th, 2016 04:16 am (UTC)
A friend of mine once told me that if you've made it to the interview, you have the necessary skills and experience for the job. The interview is all about "Can I stand to work with this person?" Understanding that has made me interview so much better in both directions, I think.
ironphoenix
Mar. 16th, 2016 03:03 pm (UTC)
It's a question tailor-made for a humblebrag, which kind of irritates me: it's not forthright.

How about "I tend to make puns frequently"?

But seriously, folks, if I'm aware of a weakness, I'm probably already doing something to address it. I'm not naturally an "organized" person with lists and color-coded binders and so on, for example, but I use (or even make) tools to make it easier to track key things (calendar, workflows, GMail Inbox snooze, etc.), and even better, I hire someone who is meticulous that way to keep things on track.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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