“What is your greatest weakness?”
This is often a popular question posed by hiring managers in job interviews. It is this question many job applicants struggle to answer in fear of the response turning off a future employer. A successful job applicant will point out something an outsider may view as a weakness and turn it into a strength.
For example, I had the opportunity to meet a professional baseball player I admired several years ago. This spur of the moment encounter left me speechless. Literally. As he stood next to me it was as if I no longer had the capacity to form coherent sentences. Without a word I handed him a pen and turned sideways so he could sign my jersey. He politely indulged my silent request, patted me on the shoulder and headed into the locker room before a big game without me ever uttering a single word.
For years after the chance meeting with the baseball player, I kicked myself for not having the ability to say anything at all. Why wasn’t I able to engage in meaningful conversation? It was only recently that I was able to identify the reason behind my awkward silence.
I am an introvert.
Someone who many people mistake for as shy or quiet, can actually be an introvert. An outgoing extrovert might view this personality type as a weakness when it comes to finding success in a career.
One of the main characteristics of introversion is the need to choose words carefully and think before speaking. Introverts do not do well in situations where they are put on the spot and need quiet time to formulate ideas. I often find the perfect thing to say after I have already left a meeting and later feel frustrated for not thinking of the idea sooner.
Now that I am an identified introvert, I have turned my quiet traits into one of my strengths. With a better understanding about myself, I know now that I need quiet time to formulate ideas or complete tasks that require deep concentration. When ideas come to me after thoughtful consideration, I send a follow up email to add my input to an earlier conversation from a meeting.
This also means if I have plans to attend a public event, I need to prepare myself for unexpected conversations often with topics thought out in advance. With some careful preparation, I have turned awkward networking events into successful opportunities to make connections.
I know now if I were able to prepare for my encounter with the baseball player, I would have experienced a more positive meeting. With my new knowledge and some quiet preparation, I would have found more success making coherent conversation with my carefully chosen words.
Have you ever identified a weakness and turned it successfully into a strength in your career?
To find out where your strengths can be put to good use, contact one of our recruiters at (608) 257-2411 for more information on career opportunities.
Stephanie Beirne Leuer is the Marketing Coordinator at Drake & Company Staffing Solutions, a staffing firm based in Madison, Wisconsin. Drake & Company specializes in temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire administrative, clerical and legal placements. Since 1978, Drake has reached beyond skills and qualifications to match candidate personalities with a company’s culture. You can connect with Stephanie by email, and you can find Drake & Company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.