Apparently there is a new superhuman breed walking among us, utterly free of weaknesses.
In interviews, I always try to get candidates to speak honestly about their downsides. I do this because I'm trying to have an honest conversation about their fit for the job -- and about the job's fit for them. I do this not because I'm trying to trip them up, but because don't want to put someone in a job they're going to struggle in, never excel in, or that I'll end up having to fire them from.
I do this in a bunch of ways -- obviously, by delving into past experiences and probing around about their skills, approach, etc. But I also do it by asking questions like, say, "What kind of feedback have you received from managers, both in terms of what they say you excel at and things you've been encouraged to do differently?" Yeah, it's the old strengths and weaknesses in a not-so-good disguise.
Sometimes candidates can't or don't come up with critical feedback they've received. Fine, maybe they've had crappy managers who don't bother to give feedback. So then I ask this: "If you were your own manager and could wave a magic wand over your head, what would you tweak?"
Lately, I've encountered a lot of seemingly stunned candidates who are clearly at a loss for an answer.
This baffles me for two reasons:
1. If you're job searching, how are you not prepared to be asked to speak about weaknesses? Did you really have no inkling this might be coming?
2. More importantly, are you so lacking in self-awareness and insight that you don't have an answer to this? Or are you just unwilling to answer it honestly? Either way, you fail.
Today, a woman actually told me, "I really can't think of anything I'd change. It's hard for me to imagine something I couldn't do well."
Wow. I think pretty damn highly of myself, and there are still hundreds of things I could rattle off at a moment's notice that I'd like to be able to do better. Some of them are serious weaknesses.
This phenomenon is such a weird combination of naivete, arrogance, and lack of thoughtfulness, and it is happening so much lately that it's making me want to stab someone with a fork.