Career Candids: Name Three Qualities

new dress shot
“Name three qualities your co-workers would use to best describe you.”
After pausing for a moment to think, I replied:

  1. “Works best in teams and keeps a positive attitude
  2. Output oriented
  3. Works well under pressure.”

This was the final question asked during the interview for my current job. I was more or less satisfied with my answer (mostly because they seemed pleased with it) since I had thought of three interview-appropriate items quickly, and felt they were all true.

But after the interview, I joked with Evan that I should have just said:

  1. Asian
  2. Keeps her head down
  3. Gets the job done

All of which were again true, and again would make many employers happy. We still laugh about these three crudely laid out qualities – but it highlighted how while I had made progress in my career in many ways, I was not totally happy with the role I was filling (read: work horse). I’m not saying that working hard is a bad or disadvantageous thing, or that I wouldn’t want to be associated with it.  I just realized I wouldn’t want it to be the main quality someone would use to describe me above all else.

So what would I want, in an ideal world, those three things to be? There are many, and the three I said before are still things I assert are still true and would want to maintain, but upon further reflection, these would be the three top things I would want people to associate with me as their co-worker/employee/boss:

1.) Thoughtful and Creative– there are a lot of smart people out there, and I am fortunate to work with a lot of them at the World Bank, but creative people can be hard to come by in such large organizations.  Thoughtful is really the #1 adjective I’d use to describe my best co-workers – for the ones who take time to think of doing things better, or to even remember why we are doing them at all.

2.) Assertive and Fearless – I have always, always admired my assertive co-workers who aren’t afraid to say what they think in any meeting, who ask for what they and others deserve, and who take on risks for making a difference. This is probably one area I still have the most to work on.

3.) Fun – this is something that has often been under appreciated in many of my workplaces.  Working long hours is infinitely more enjoyable and productive for me if I can enjoy those around me.  I would love to be a co-worker who can break tension with a joke, or make long hours on trains and in airports actually enjoyable.

While I might not use these exact phrases for my next job interview, making this list was a good reminder for what I’m striving for at work, and has helped me redirect my efforts at my current job to be more of who I want to be.  What are your three qualities?

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