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Dreaded Interview Questions: What is Your Greatest Weakness?

Dreaded Interview Questions: What is Your Greatest Weakness?

Photo: juliaeatssweaters/Flickr (CC)

Karen Siwak/Careerealism

March 12, 2010

Before I start this story, I need to make a confession. I never wear watches. Not because I don’t find the correct time an incredibly useful piece of information, but because I keep losing them. Watches are a distraction when I’m working, and so I take them off and they disappear. Or worse, I forget to take them off, launch into my latest DIY project, and they get ruined.

So, now the story. Fifteen years ago I attended a week-long intensive on Strategic Planning, hosted by the Executive Development Program at Queen’s University. One hundred plus senior managers and business leaders from a wide range of industries came together to learn about best practices in strategic analysis, competitive positioning, and corporate visioning. In preparation for the seminar, we each completed a 20 page psychometric test to evaluate our individual teamwork style, the premise being that a strong team has a balance of styles.

The weekend before the intensive, I made a deliberate effort to buy and wear a watch. I was meeting with executives, we would be on a tight schedule, my Administrative Assistant would not be there, I needed a watch. And I found one. It was a beautiful piece of art, dark blue face with planets and meteors, hand-tooled leather band, the kind of watch that, when you see somebody wearing it, you can say “hey, that’s a cool watch.” Unfortunately, it had no numbers, a serious defect in watches as it turns out, and so an unreliable indicator of time. But still, a really cool watch.

On the first day of the Strategic Planning intensive, I was late (see above, about the watch), and walked in as the seminar leader was describing the four quadrants of teamwork style: Visionary; Analyst; People Person; Routine Keeper (actually, in truth, I can’t even remember the proper title of the last category, but it was along these lines).

He was using pictures of watches to make a point about the personality differences of the various styles:

The Routine Keeper: Straightforward watch, no nonsense, no embellishments – black band, exactly 12 numbers in the appropriate places, three hands, precision set.

The People Person: Colorful watch, guy with big ears and white-gloved hands pointing out the passing minutes and hours.

The Analyst: Digital watch with all the bells and whistles – built in calculator, multiple time zone indicators, (today it probably would include a GPS).

The Visionary: If they even wear a watch, which is unlikely, artistic, out-of-this-world embellishments, probably no numbers.

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