Thursday, March 8, 2018

10 Dumb, 10 Smart, and 10 Celebrity CEO Interview Questions

At the Forbes web site on March 4, 2018 there was an article by Liz Ryan titled Ten Smart Interview Questions – and Ten Painfully Dumb Ones. Here are Liz’s dumb ones:


D01] Why do you want to work here?

D02] What’s your greatest weakness?

D03] Where do you see yourself in five years?

D04] What would your last manager say about you?

D05] What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

D06] If you were a can of soup, what kind of soup would you be?

D07] What do you bring to our team?

D08] Why should we hire you?

D09] Tell me about a time when you overcame a challenge.

D10] How badly do you want the job?

Over the years I’ve been asked many of them. The best answer I’d heard given to D03] (Where do you see yourself in five years?) reportedly came from someone who was being interviewed for Vice President of Research at a materials company (a position from which no further promotion was possible). He simply replied:
 “retired and living in the south of France.”

For D06] (If you were a can of soup, what kind of soup would you be?) I’d be tempted to say condensed Cream of Mutant Soup or Cream of Zombie Soup.

For D10] (How badly do you want the job?) I once almost blurted out that I didn’t want that job nearly as badly as you thought I did. That interviewer incorrectly had assumed that I must be desperate to immediately find another position. Then he told me a story about a previous candidate who hadn’t been worth hiring (D08]), and made me a lowball starting salary offer. But I wasn’t desperate – just insulted. I walked away since I had six months more unemployment coming in, that more than covered all my living expenses.

Here are Liz’s smart questions:

S01] What have you learned about our company so far?

S02] Here’s a quick description of the role. How do you think this job will be similar to other jobs you’ve had?

S03] Here’s what we’re dealing with in the department. (Explain) What are your thoughts about our 2018 challenges and opportunities?

S04] What can I tell you about the role, the team, the company or the industry that will help you understand what the job is all about?

S05] Here’s a typical day on the job. (Explain) What parts of the position sound like they’d be the most challenging? How would you overcome those challenges?

S06] Here’s the biggest project you’d take on in this role in the first few months. (Explain) How would you approach that project?

S07] I’d love to hear a story from one of your past jobs that illustrates how you show up at work. Tell me a story about a situation where you were in your glory, doing what you love to do and making a positive difference.

S08] How does this job move your career forward? What does it give you that you don’t already have?

S09] What do you imagine will be the highest priorities for the person in this job, in their first few months?

S10] If you were offered and accepted this position, how would you step into the role? What would your ‘attack plan’ be?

There was another set of ten in an article titled Celebrity CEOs: What they ask in interviews that had appeared on March 1, 2018 in the biweekly Managing People at Work newsletter:

C01] Tell me something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on.

C02] If you were able to sit yourself down 10 years ago, what advice would you give your younger self?

C03] On your very best day at work, what did you do that day?

C04] What would someone who doesn’t like you say about you?

C05] Are you the smartest person you know?

C06] What didn’t you get the chance to include on your resume?

C07] What do you want to be when you grow up?

C08] Can you tell me about four people whose careers you have improved?

C09] How would you describe yourself in one word?

C10] On a scale from 1 to 10, how weird are you?

The person who asked C05] (Are you the smartest person you know?) wanted to hear a YES. But if you suggested another person, then he would try to hire them. My wife said that question was missing the critical context phrase “for this job.” If she was asked it in an interview for an accounting job, she might say I was. But I know nothing about accounting, and thus would be worthless.

The Savage Chickens cartoon from February 22, 2018 was titled Didn’t Get the Job.

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