Extreme Interviewee’s Revenge
Previously I looked at the cut-throat world of extreme interviewing where employers threw radical, left-field interview questions at unsuspecting applicants. It’s a craze that is taking off in America and like most things it will no doubt filter its way into New Zealand practice in the not too distant future.
Gathering valuable information
But an interview isn’t just a one-way street. It’s not just about the employer bombarding the interviewee with a series of questions in an attempt to understand their personality or see how they react in certain situations. A good interview is also an opportunity for the candidate to gather some valuable information about their prospective employer, so they can make a good decision about whether the work place is right for them.
Your chance to ask questions
In the world of the situational interview that is currently common in New Zealand, you might gather information about the job by asking something constructive like, “Who will I be directly reporting to in this role?” (Questions like “When can I take my first holiday?” or “What time do I get lunch?” won’t help you to nail the job.)
But in the extreme interview world, where the employer asks radical questions designed to reveal your creativity and personality, what about gathering information about the job by using the same technique? Why not fight fire with fire and put the employer on the spot? See how creative they are and learn a bit about their personality.
Here are a few questions I have come up with – although be warned, it may be a bit early to start throwing them out there in real interviews just yet!
Who do you most admire - Montgomery Burns, Colonel Clink, David Brent or Callum McKay?
This could help you understand your future employer’s leadership style. Could you imagine working for an aggressive dictator like Montgomery Burns? If not, and you find your potential new employer greatly admires Burns’ authoritarian style, you may just find there is major conflict waiting to happen in the work place. (Of course, use whatever fictional characters you want in your own question.)
If your building was on fire and you could save one piece of office equipment what would it be?
This could help understand what is most important to an employer. Is it accounts, files or the old coffee table that has been part of the office since they opened in 1945? If he envisages himself carrying the table down several flights of stairs to safety, he is clearly stuck in the past. And if you are an enthusiastic, creative, future-focused candidate with eyes on change and development, then you could be in the wrong spot…
If someone was to look in the top drawer of your desk what would be the most interesting thing they would find?
You could get some great personality insights from this question. Family photos, receipt for a tie, a rubber chicken or the keys to the post office box. Who would you rather work for?
- Family photos – a caring down-to-earth employer who would treat staff as if they are family?
- A receipt for a tie – someone who is reserved and quite particular about their professional appearance?
- The rubber chicken – an energetic and creative person?
- The post office box keys -someone with nothing better to put in their top drawer?
If you were a breed of dog what breed would you be?
Another question to determine leadership style. Obviously this could depend on your interest in dogs. Personally, I wouldn’t work with anyone who was a Boxer, Great Dane or Pit Bull.
Imagine you are the coach of the Chicago Bulls in the NBA finals. It is game seven. You are down by one with three seconds on the clock. Just enough time for a final shot. Your star player is out injured. Do you:
a) give the ball to the talented rookie and let him have a crack,
b) play safe by going to a seasoned veteran whose skills have been fading lately
c) surprise everyone by going to the guy who only shoots the ball twice every three games knowing no one would expect him to get the ball?
Now’s your chance to find out whether your potential employer values:
a) developing new staff
b) loyalty or
c) c) taking risks.
Of course you may discover your potential employer has no idea who the Chicago Bulls are. In that case quickly terminate the interview. Because with the NBA play offs coming up you are going to need time off to watch Derek Rose brings those Bulls home.
So look out employers. Your time of being safe, snug and secure behind that mahogany desk, with the power and control of the interview in your hands may be about to end. The tide is turning in extreme interviewing.