It’s that classic job interview question, ‘describe your weaknesses’ and the classic response ‘I’m a perfectionist’ or ‘I expect too much of myself’. We all know that the interviewee has a range of other weaknesses but of course they aren’t going to list them when applying for a job. Once they are ensconced in the role their true character emerges and everyone just has to live with it.
It’s easy to see the faults in others but are you realistic about your own character? No doubt you are effective and hard-working, no doubt you have colleagues and friends who admire you and plenty of success behind you but are you as great as you think you are? It can be hard to face up to the negative aspects of our personalities but to make progress, it’s something that has to be dealt with.
In an increasingly competitive world, whether we are trying to keep our businesses afloat or remain employed, it is essential that we tackle potential problems head-on. If we are looking for a new post, we have to be able to bring self-awareness and evidence of our employability to the interview, as well as excellent references.
‘I’m a perfectionist’ may mean that you will work hard to get things right or it may mean that you will find fault, bully your colleagues and never be satisfied. ‘I expect too much of myself’ may mean that you have high standards but it might also suggest that have a low regard for others, are dismissive of opposing views and not a team player. Every tine we go to work we are interacting with colleagues and clients; how do they see you? What does the person you get on with least well think about you?
It is easy to justify how we behave with others - he’s an idiot so why should his opinion matter? she doesn’t know what I know so why should I listen to her? – but when we can’t see what is wrong with our attitudes or behaviours, then there is something wrong with US not THEM. We are all the heroes of our own stories and full self-awareness is a rare achievement, nonetheless we should take time to reflect on why we act as we do and to wonder whether we are, in fact, always right.
When talking to potential new members of the Pluralists Club about their ambitions and prospects, I am always interested in how they see themselves and how their ambitions align with their hopes. I get plenty of enquiries from people who think I can connect them to the perfect opportunity and the right people but in fact my main interest is in what they are like as people. I am looking for collaborative, curious and imaginative members, not folk who already think they’re great. I suspect most interviewers feel the same.
To get that job, or NED role, or investor you need to be match fit. To not only achieve success but also enjoy it, we need to feel good about ourselves and be open to new ideas and methods. Whatever age you are, you are not a finished project you are an ongoing piece of work with plenty of novelty and excitement ahead of you, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking there’s no room for improvement … there always is.