in Careers Advice, Interviews

Interview Question 34 – Describe your strongest and weakest colleagues – how do you cope with such diverse personalities?

Advice

This is a difficult question because it is asking you to in some way criticise work colleagues and to perhaps idolise other work colleagues. This is a question potentially loaded towards the interviewer as opposed to the interviewee.

At its rawest form you could end up giving an answer that indicates to the interview that you are not someone who gets on well within a team as you have found faults or identified weaknesses in your work colleagues.

By identifying weaknesses in work colleagues you are indicating that either there are issues with you and your colleagues or you have deep rooted prejudices against certain types of people who may or may not justify this.

The best way to handle this type of question is to try and keep your answer as positive as possible. This will entail identifying that some people have more strengths than others as opposed to some people having weaknesses.

Examples of Answers

“I believe that everybody has their strengths, some more so than others and that even in the most inexperienced member of any team you can find strengths that others within that team do not necessarily have. My belief has always been that provided you build on these strengths and utilise them to the overall good of the team, then you need not concentrate on any weaknesses. Where there are members of the team who do not have as many strengths as others I have always found it a useful exercise to identify what they have that can be utilised for the good of the team generally. There is always something and personality does not come into this when you are working on a professional basis as part of a team”.

Or:

“When I was captain of the University First-11 Cricket Team it was always the case that we had our strong players as well as those who had less strength and less ability. However each player had their part to play within the team and it is very important as a captain to make sure that any player tries their best, performs to their optimum levels and is given the necessary encouragement to do this. Some may have more strengths and perform to a higher level than others, but that does not make them a more integral part of the team and playing team sports. All 11 players need to be encouraged and to always play to the best of their ability.

Managing personalities is a completely different issue as captain one often finds that some of the better players need a different type of management to the weaker ones. Often the better players need reigning in and encouraging to concentrate on their individual performance, whereas the weaker players often require encouragement to succeed as part of a team.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 17 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk