An interview question that seems to be popping up more frequently these days is, “what is your kryptonite?”
This can be a tricky question, since it not only requires the candidate to know what kryptonite is and what it does, but how it would relate to their behavior! For those devout Superman fans, the knowledge of kryptonite is universal. Kryptonite is a green crystallin substance that was formed through the explosion of the planet Krypton (Superman’s home planet). Exposure to kryptonite takes away Superman’s powers and can even be lethal to him. Bad guys have used kryptonite over the years to weaken and attack Superman.
When you hear this question in an interview, the interviewer is asking you what takes away your power or tends to make you weak or ineffective. It is a question that is similar to the old standby “what is your greatest weakness?”, but with a unique twist. Since kryptonite exerts an external force, you will need to address what external influences tend to take away your power.
The dilemma for the candidate is how to answer the question without revealing a fatal personal flaw. We all have weaknesses or areas in which we don’t always perform at our best, so understanding this and having a truthful answer prepared will help the candidate answer this question with ease.
So, what are some typical forms of “kryptonite” that may affect you?
- A noisy or chaotic workplace
- Co-workers that don’t pull their load
- Unclear expectations or guidance
- Lack of organizational vision and goals
Notice that these are all external factors that not only affect the candidate, but can also reflect adversely on the organization itself. This can put the interviewer in a unique (or even uncomfortable) position and give the candidate an upper hand, by deflecting the question back toward the organization. Most interviewers will try to assure the candidate that “they will not experience any of those conditions in their organization” and quickly move on to the next question!
If, however, you happen to strike a nerve with the interviewer, who then becomes defensive about your answer, you need to see this as a red flag. It could be that “your kryptonite” is actually embedded there already, and this may not be the place for you at all.
So……….the next time you are asked about your kryptonite, you will be impervious to its effects and ready to ace your interview!