Updated: Jun 13, 2019
What Are You Really Good At?
As a recruiter, one of my most common interview questions was “what are you really good at?”
I was often surprised by the banality of the answers.
“I’m really good with people.”
“I’m great with numbers and spreadsheets.”
I believe a lack of insight into our particular and unique strengths holds us back in a number of ways. This knowledge is essential to doing well in interviews, advocating for ourselves during negotiations, and developing our leadership style. As a result of knowing and embracing our strengths we can build the confidence which underlies all of the above.
If you don’t know your strengths, you’re not alone. As children, we don't typically receive formal education of what strengths are. If you're lucky you had a teacher or parent or uncle or aunt that was really good at talent spotting and helped you see this. Or perhaps you're one of those rare geniuses who had some really obvious talent that others could see. But most of us don't see our own strengths. Most of us think our strengths are "no big deal" and often mistake them for weaknesses. In general, we’re much more focused on what we think we lack in comparison to others than what we uniquely excel at. We don’t take time to reflect on our unique talents and abilities nor give clear and differentiating names to them.
When you have insight into your superpowers- your skills, character strengths and talents- you know who you are at your best. This insight is valuable to us not only in our professional lives as employees, entrepreneurs and leaders but also in our personal lives, as friends, partners, or parents.
So what does a strong answer to the question "what are you really good at?" sound like?
I could say “I’m really good with people” and that would be true.
But precisely how am I good with people? What's unique about the way I relate to others?
A stronger answer might be:
“I'm really good at bringing harmony and consensus to any group I work with, this has helped me facilitate meetings and conversations and strike agreements that leave partners satisfied. I excel at spotting potential in others and helping them develop it. I’m able to see the unique positive qualities of each person and how they can use that to help them move forward. I’m highly adaptable and able to go with the flow of changing situations. I stay calm during chaos. I’m responsible. If I say I’m going to do something you can count on me to do it. Above all I value fairness and equality, kindness and generosity and leadership. Those are the character strengths people notice most in me.”
Below are some questions to help you begin to create clarity on your unique talents, character strengths and skills. If you get stuck, ask friends, coworkers and others who know you well. Or of course, call me and we'll figure them out together!
What are your top five gifts or talents?
How do you absorb, think about and analyze information and situations?
How do you make things happen?
How do you influence others?
How do you build and nurture strong relationships?
What do people tell you you’re really good at but that seems effortless to you?
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