There’s perhaps much more than you realise behind those challenging questions asked during an interview.
They can be tricky, hard to answer and may catch you off guard, but depending on how you’ve answered, the interviewer can quickly establish if you have a key trait, which is often a great identifier of just how successful you may be.
“What skills do you think you need to develop?”, “What is your greatest weakness?”, no doubt you’ve been faced with similar questions at interview.
Quite often the interviewer will be probing you with these types of questions, and for very good reason. It’s not to find out your flaws and weaknesses, it’s to assess your level of self-awareness and evidence of a growth mindset.
It’s evident to the interviewer when assessing your response to these questions how high your degree of self-awareness is. That is, when asked what situations you’ve found challenging, where you have replied with the answer and further explanation of how you could have done things differently indicates your innovation, flexibility and resourcefulness to tackle difficult situations.
It’s generally a good indicator that if you respond to such questions without providing an explanation of how you could have done things differently (this includes being prompted) you could have more of a fixed mindset.
This leads the interviewer to question your ability to reflect and learn from difficult experiences and suggests how innovative you may be when solving difficult problems.
This strategy of assessing a potential candidate’s ability to self-reflect leads us to a larger, more important overall character trait, whether the candidate embodies a growth mindset. Psychologist Carol Dweck, who coined the term, describes it as a belief that your talents can be developed.
In the current highly competitive law climate, it’s never been more important to demonstrate to potential employers that you bring with you the ability to tackle difficult situations, learn from mistakes and further develop your skills. The rate in which law now evolves due to globalisation and improvements in technology means that lawyers need to quickly develop new skills and employ best practices.
If you’re worried about describing difficult experiences and situations to potential employers during an interview, don’t be. There is nothing wrong with demonstrating that you have taken risks, failed, learned and become more innovative.