Companies want to know about you, your personality, your grit, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Directly asking a candidate for their strengths and weaknesses often yields poor results -- most people are reluctant to admit their flaws and too shy to boast about their strengths. Interviewers, therefore, might frame the questions differently.
Here are some of the questions an interviewer might ask.
- How would your colleagues describe you?
- If you were interviewing a potential teammate, what traits would you look for?
- If you needed a partner to solve a programming problem, how would you describe your ideal partner?
- If you could go back to five years ago, what skill would you learn?
- Tell me about a time when you faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge and how you overcame it.
Senior interviewers tend to have a go-to question that they believe reveals the most about a person. In his book Zero to One, Peter Thiel revealed that he asked everyone he interviewed: “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” This question is hard to answer as it first requires you to know what most people agree on, be able to think independently and be confident enough to express it.
Be yourself, but don’t be a jerk. Silicon Valley has been known for tolerating brilliant jerks -- high performers who are rude and unpleasant to work with -- which contributes to the alleged toxic culture of the tech industry. However, in recent years, many tech companies including Netflix have made the commitment to not hire jerks, no matter how brilliant they are.