We get those typical questions in an interview where we have to answer about our strengths or weaknesses. And the answer is usually same for both the questions. The only difference being, for the weakness we just floral wrap our biggest strength and present it as a well packaged, wrongly labelled but in the form of a weakness.
Initially, I never liked answering these questions, but when during a certain phase I had to go through a lot of interviews or had to write my SOPs, I thought maybe I should really reflect on what my strengths and weaknesses are. Ok, my strengths aren’t really interesting, what I’ll talk about is how I came across one of my weaknesses.
I was sitting in a Micro-Economics lecture, playing a game on my mobile when I thought that maybe the Prof spotted me doing that. Then I pretended to pay attention for a while. But I actually did pay attention to what she was teaching and as I listened to her, I thought – That’s so me! I had found my weakness. I felt really happy.
Next time when I encountered the same question
Interviewer- ” Tell me your weakness.”
Me – Oh. It’s Sunk cost fallacy!
The interviewer was taken back. It took him a while to register that. I can’t blame him, he asked to explain. Then I went on explaining the concept first and how is it my weakness.
If you’ve ever let unworn clothes clutter your closet just because they were expensive, or followed through on plans you were dreading because you already bought tickets, you’re familiar with the sunk cost fallacy. This idea often applies to money, but invested time, energy, or pain can also influence behavior. Relationships are a classic one. The longer you’ve been together, the harder it is to break up.
Explaining what the fallacy is all about –
The Misconception: You make rational decisions based on the future value of objects, investments and experiences.
The Truth: Your decisions are tainted by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.
This can be linked to another psychological concept that is ‘loss aversion’. We don’t treat gains and losses equally. The pain of losing 100 dollars for us is far greater than the joy of winning 100 dollars. This is why marketing and good salesmanship is often all about convincing you what you want to buy is worth more than what you must pay for it. You see something as a good value when you predict the pain of loss will be offset by your joy of gain.
Whenever this clinging to the past becomes a factor in making decisions about your future, you run the risk of being derailed by the sunk cost fallacy.
Let’s say you’re standing on the edge of a ship and you drop your phone into the sea, you probably won’t jump after it. Or you won’t throw money for resources to retrieve it. Here, you know that it’s gone and it’s not logical to throw more money after something that’s really gone. Laid out like this, logical and rational and easy to pick apart, you can pat yourself on the back for being such a reasonable human. Unfortunately, the sunk costs in life aren’t always so easy to see. When something is gone forever it can be difficult to realize it. The past isn’t as tangible a concept as the seafloor, yet it is just as untouchable. What is left behind is just as irretrievable.
The sunk cost is the reason people keep pushing prices in the auctions or politicians keep defending and pursuing their failed policies.
The interviewer was intrigued by my detailed response, he didn’t even ask me if I have found a way to overcome it, or am I working on it. And I was glad that he didn’t because I had figured my weakness but I was yet to buy that floral wrap to present it as a strength.
Have you thought about your weaknesses or even strengths? Do share in the comments.