Strengths & Weaknesses” Vs “Successes & Failures

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?” is a very favorite question of almost every interviewer.

And every time I hear someone ask this, I find myself wincing uncomfortably. Not that I am unable to respond to this question, but more so because I find myself thinking what will my esteemed interviewer gain from my response about my weakness? Or how would it , in anyway, help my future stakeholders or colleagues? Or how does it give an insight into how I fit into the organizational culture?

The term weakness seems absolute in conveying a message that one is not good at something . Or one cannot accomplish something. A word that invites a “self-limiting” response that a candidate might find hard to respond to.And a word that, at best, invites a response that reveals nothing about the candidate’s personality and perspectives.

So what’s a better question to get peek into the candidate for culture-fit and competency and also give the candidate equal privilege in making a well informed decision to take up the opportunity?

Tell me something about (noteworthy) successes and failures you have experienced.

Or “tell me some of your likes and dislikes”. As a candidate, it would be a delight for me to share valuable insight about some of my notable accomplishments , what was my contribution and why its so important for me to mention the one particular among many others. And what success means to me.

It would give a feeling of candidness when I am done narrating how I dealt with my failures. And that my interviewer now knows about my perspective of my attitude towards people and situations. And the tacit assurance that this knowledge about me will help the interviewer give me better perspective of the team, expected qualities and culture and give me an equal privilege in decision-making. And this goes a long way in employee-employer relationship success.

Sharing stories of success and failures reveals how one overcame adverse circumstances and in the process became more stronger — it reveals if the failures have transformed the candidate to a negative person or person with greater maturity and talent, a person who resisted change or embraced change, and much more — the very traits required in employees that help a team and the organization succeed.

If success is a strength factor, understanding and learning from failure is bigger asset that offers a peek into candidate’s future synergy with the team and culture-fit.

I have my share of them. But I’ll leave them for another time.

And to you my reader, I welcome your comments and views on this post. And of course a “Like” is appreciated.

Published earlier on on 10/15/2015