What is your superpower?

This is actually a question that gets asked at Amazon. They tried to have us incorporate this question in our interviews of candidates and also in performance reviews.

It’s a simple question and on the surface might even seem a little silly, but is actually an important question to think about.

The most obvious goal was to figure out the candidate’s strengths. If you could figure out how they could play to those strengths and how that might strengthen the teams/departments/projects that person was assigned to, then it produced a win/win for everyone, including the overall org.

But the other goal, the one that I would often pay more attention to, was to see how self aware that person was. One thing you learn to do a lot of at Amazon is ask, “Why?” (Side note, Jeff Bezos is often quoted as being a proponent of the 5 Whys, a Six Sigma approach.)

And here is another instance where you learn a lot about a person for how specific they are with their answers. Not only with the initial “What is your superpower?” But also with the follow up, “Why?”

Though the actual answers were sometimes interesting and insightful, I often found myself learning a lot just by how they answered those questions.

The most common types of answers usually fell into 2 camps. 1) I don’t know 2) Multiple possible superpowers. Yet very few could come up with one definitive trait they felt was THEIR superpower.

The point isn’t to over prepare for unexpected questions like this that could be asked in an interview. The point is to consider making it a habit to ask yourself these types of questions on a regular basis. Even if you never get asked that question by another person. Because having that awareness is empowering. You understand what makes you different and unique. And ultimately that’s what almost every organization no matter the size is looking for, people who have a superpower and want to bring it to the table.

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