Hello SOTGC community,
Lately I’ve been going to a good amount of women’s networking functions and at these functions they talk a lot about some of the reasons we feel that women might not be shattering through the Glass Ceiling as quickly as we’d like. One of the themes that keeps coming up is that we have a hard time asking for help. When getting to the root of the matter, it seems that somewhere along the way, we have been taught that admitting we need help, and asking for it, is a weakness. Therefore we tend to internalize this and, sometimes to the detriment of our progress, plod on without getting the help we need.
A couple months ago when we were interviewing for my counterpart, I posted on my Facebook that I was interviewing some candidates and did anyone have some good questions they like asking when they interview. This led into a STRING of comments (most of them funny) about questions I should ask. One of my friends took this more seriously, and posted the following:
“You want to know my interview technique?1. What’s your weakness? (Their prepared answer about a weakness that is really a strength).2. What else? Give me another weakness. (Their backup answer)3. That’s two, give me another weakness. (They think and tell you they cannot come up with one). You say: “I’ll wait. Think about another one.” (You stare at them for 30 seconds and they finally they give you an answer).4. Give me a fourth weakness. (They are silent. You keep staring). “You can’t be so cocky that you think you only have three weaknesses, do you? Give me a fourth. We have time. I’ll wait.”5. Repeat until a) you feel that you truly understand how the applicant will handle pressure b) you feel that you truly understand how introspective the applicant is c) the applicant is about to cry.It’s a very tough/brutal approach used in the East Coast, but it tells you far more about an applicant than you expect. But it’s mean. The really mean people just let the applicant leave the interview at the end. I tell them that I ask all applicants those same questions and they are designed to be tough. I also tell them that did they great whether or not they did so I don’t ruin anyone’s day. I won’t deny that it’s mean, but it will give you more info than any other question.”
I thought about this response for a while. And then decided I would use this tactic during the interviews, but for a different reason. With all three of the candidates I asked multiple times for their weaknesses. With all three, by about the third time I asked I could tell that they were getting frustrated. So I told them that there was a specific reason I was doing this, and it wasn’t to be a jerk, and that after they gave me another couple weaknesses I would tell them why I was asking.
After I felt they had given me some true weaknesses I let them know that I was asking for three reasons:
- I wanted to see how introspective they are. Have they assessed themselves, and have they realized what their weaknesses are?
- I am looking for a partner (since we’ll be sharing the territory) that has strengths, where I have weaknesses. I don’t want someone who is exactly like me, because when it comes to creative problem solving, we’ll just continuously hit a wall.
- We are dealing with patient outcomes here. I wasn’t worried so much about the candidate with operating room experience, but with the other two I wanted to know if they would ADMIT to me when they needed something or didn’t know something. I needed to trust that they wouldn’t just internalize their question since that could put someone at risk.
Let’s be honest. Admitting we need help, or that we cannot handle a situation and need someone else’s viewpoint is hard. However, when creating a strong, trusting relationship with someone (whether work or personal), if you can’t admit you have fallen on a hard question or scenario, and ask for someone to help you up, how are you going to grow as an individual? And more importantly, how will you be a good teammate, friend, relative, or lover to someone if you cannot open up, and share this with them?