The Weakness Question

As I’ve mentioned, there have been just a few career opportunities in the past couple of months that intrigued me to the point of actually applying. As I’ve prepared for interviews, one of the questions I have tried to ready myself for is the “What’s your biggest weakness?”

What's YOUR biggest weakness?

A friend was asking questions to me in preparation for an interview today, and the weakness one came up. I spouted off my real, but practiced answer.

I am a big picture thinker, and that means for me that focusing on details require more effort than big picture thinking. To mitigate this, I write down reminders and lists and allocate specific time to focus on those lists.

I also make sure to build a team that has complementary competencies. I don’t want a group of people that thinks exactly like me. For me, I get someone who is very detail oriented so that we complement each other. The more experience I get, the more I see that getting diversity of thought, background, and perspective is key to making good decisions.


Manage your Energy Wisely!

The other thing is that I’ve heard the strengths/weakness defined differently than positive and negative aspects. Strengths are activities that give you energy when you do them, and weaknesses require energy to do. So, the trick is to know and plan your day so that you have the most energy to tackle your “weaknesses” and use your “strengths” activities to recover. Energy management.

That’s my answer. It’s 100% true. But as I was answering it, I had an epiphany.

My biggest weakness is the one that I don’t know about and don’t have a mitigation strategy for. Maybe it’s something that everyone knows but me. Maybe it’s something that’s undiscovered by everyone.

There’s not much I can do about the latter, but the former does actually have a mitigation strategy, at least as it comes to gaining awareness. I have to continually encourage feedback from those around me. I have to communicate that I’m willing to be vulnerable and appreciate learning ways that I can improve. Back in high school, in sports they used to call this “coachable.” My goal then is, of course, to be coachable for life and never get so rooted in protecting my ego that I am not willing to listen, learn, and improve.

I believe I’m ready for that question now.

Charles Atlas

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