I've also been thinking about job applications and what (hopefully) comes after the application – the interview. One of the things you will often be asked in an interview is to list three good and bad sides about yourself.
Let’s start with the bad. The worst answer of all is that you have no bad sides. This only comes off as arrogant and it reveals a lack of self-insight (which is a bad side). Instead, it is common for interviewees to try to pick bad sides that are possible to work on, or sides that also can be advantages. At the same time, it is important to be honest. Don’t say your worst side is your impatience just because you’ve heard this can translate to “getting things done”. And don’t say “I can never say no” unless it is absolutely true – chances are the interviewers will have heard both of those before.
I tried to think about my actual worst sides – at least those who affect work. Because some of my bad sides don’t affect my work – I can be terribly messy at home, but I’m far more organized at work, for instance. One problem I have encountered with my thesis and in my work life is a double-edged sword: I can (have had to, in fact) work independently, but I far prefer working in a team, getting feedback, having someone that depends on me. That is the best way I can employ my potential; I perform better when I am not making all the decisions myself.
It is definitely a disadvantage because many job listings specifically mention “the ability to work independently” as one thing they are looking for. At the same time, I have shown that I can work independently, for instance by finishing my studies. In other words; this weakness of mine is something I consciously try to work on. Also, the fact that I prefer feedback suggests that I am a team player – which most employers value in their employees.
The bad sides were difficult, but ironically it was even harder to list my good sides. My work ethics, my loyalty, the qualities and abilities I have acquired through my education and experience – how to determine which ones are more attractive for the job? When applying for the job in Japan, I decided to go for my ability to adapt to new environments. The fact that I settle quickly, am a fast and eager learner and that I generally have a positive outlook were among the qualities that made me suitable for that position. For other jobs, I might rate other qualities higher.
As a side effect of this exercise, however, I learned something about myself. It felt good to say something nice about myself. I gave myself a compliment, and I liked it. Thus, I have a challenge for you: skip the bad sides for today, but think through what your good sides are. Try to come up with at least three. If you want, post them in the comments section. Don’t be shy – it will feel good J