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The Value of Curiosity

One of the questions which often comes up in interviews is what is your greatest strength? It’s a lazy question and comes from the standard text. And everyone has their answer off pat, I ask it hoping to get an original answer and only rarely do I get answer which surprises me.

Anyway I have my answer down pat as well…I’m intensely curious,  I’ve never grown out of the why stage of my life but instead of bugging my parents, I bug myself and go and find out myself. 

Now if the interviewer gets the answer, I probably want to work for them and if the interviewer doesn’t; it’s probably never going to work out. I think curiosity is a much under-valued trait, wanting to know what’s on the other side of the hill is what drives us forward.  Hey it might kill cats but I'm not a cat

And that’s why I love things like Twitter and Blogs, it lets me find out lots of stuff; a lot of it useless but some of it profoundly useful. I get to talk to people who I wouldn’t normally have a chance to talk with. That’s why sometimes the various vendor blogs that seem to enjoy throwing mud as opposed to telling me about their product and what it can do for me really irritate me at times as they add very little to my learning.

We’re heading into a big year of product announcements, can I respectfully ask that the vendor bloggers do their best to talk about their products and what they can do? And not what the opposition can’t do? If I see a cool new feature, I can find out for myself if someone else also has it.

p.s the funniest answer to the question ‘What’s your greatest strength?’ I’ve heard of is a guy who worked for me who during a HR interview answered ‘Okay, I’ll give you a strength and then you’ll ask me what my greatest weakness is? I’ll give you a weakness which I cleverly twist into a strength. So my greatest strength is I don’t answer stupid questions!’. He’d already got the job at this point but he started off with ‘TROUBLE’ written on his file.


  1. Dave says:

    On your “PS” … I think a better question is “Tell me how you’ve leveraged one of your strengths.” I don’t want to hear that you communicate well. I want to hear that you settled a dispute between two teams who had different approaches to a problem.
    (You can go back to talking about storage vendor blogs now 😉 )

  2. Oh that’s easy…both teams were wrong!! I communicated to both of them that it is my way or the highway 😉 That way both teams united in hate of me and worked together to find a better solution!

  3. Louis Gray says:

    Putting my “blogger” hat on this time, the issue of curiosity is critical. It’s very interesting you brought this up because I just wrote on it earlier this week.
    Intellectual curiosity can mean the difference between being able to take on the information firehose and winning, or just drowning. But it’s often hard to see how you can inspire others to really get into the data.
    See: How Can You Teach Intellectual Curiosity?

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