Name three of your strengths and weaknesses

There’s a lesson in this somewhere….

We have a gem of a tea lady/office cleaner.

At first glance, Ntombi looks like your ordinary, everyday cleaner but scratch below the surface and wait for the surprise.

Her wit is as sharp as the edge of Saladin’s sword, she can keep us in stitches with her impersonations of Nelson’s Mandela’s famous accent; on a good day, she will break into song and dance, all of this while keeping the office clean.

Not in a clinically clean way though, just enough for it to be clean but cozy.

She arrived some years ago from the Eastern Cape, lived by her wits alone for a while and is now, by sheer good fortune, employed in a corporate environment.

She managed to buy herself a house in a township eventually and by all accounts is very happy with her life. So she regales me with this story the other day.

Here she is, minding her own business, snooping around in Mr Price for a bargain or two when a young man approaches her. It’s my guess that he was checking her out while she shopped and had his strategy in place.

He presents her with two duvet covers – one beige and one with navy blue stripes – and asks her opinion. Which color did she think would be better for him.

Now Ntombi is in a bit of a tizz – she has nothing to base this decision on at all.

But Ntombi being Ntombi is not going to be outdone or intimidated.

“What is the color of your base sheet?” she demands and the young man is visibly taken aback.

He probably has no idea what the heck a base sheet is, so he flounders a bit and admits he has no such thing.

One point for Ntombi.

Now for the second test of her knowledge in home decorating.

She considers the two options, sizes them up, turns the navy blue one around, looks her tormentor up and down, and volunteers an opinion.

“This is the one for you. It’s navy blue so it suits a man, it matches everything and what’s more, it is reversible”. Happy with her choice, he goes on his way.

But wait as they say on the Home Channel, there’s more.

Ntombi gets accosted by the same young gent as she leaves the store and he proceeds to offer her a week day char job, one that she does not really want or need, but with an eye on her future wealth and possibly out of a little kindness, she accepts.

Long story short, the char job is going well and it turns out this young man is a student who was in dire need of some domestic help in his student digs.

And the moral of this story is for anyone who has to go through those sometimes nerve-wracking job interviews, and for the employers who set those ridiculous questions – we all know them:

“Name three of your strengths and weaknesses” is a popular one.

What on earth does a young hopeful have to say to that one?

“Er – I get sweaty palms when I’m nervous, I get a tic in my right eye when I panic…”

Whichever weakness you choose, you are basically going to come out looking like an idiot.

Bosses, rather adopt the Ntombi/Student method. Practical, quick, to the point.

And to job hunters out there, take any job that’s available, no matter how lowly, and keep with your eye on your future wealth….

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