Monday, September 24, 2007

Unconventional Questions

Rowan Manahan has a thought-provoking post on the use of bizarre case examples in employment interviewing.

I love the use of real world case examples but, my apologies, I think that the interviewer who automatically ruled out any candidate who, when asked to design a house, immediately drew a square is as limited and dogmatic as an interviewer who would rule out anyone who didn't draw a square. Having seen a lot of employment standards challenged in discrimination cases, I'm as suspicious of the "We're so creative" crowd as I am of the linear thinkers.

Seth Godin is always going to hire the person who immediately takes charge in the "How many gas stations there are in the United States?" exercise?

He may have just hired the biggest conformist in the room. The old anarchist saying of "If they give you lined paper, write against the lines" fails to recognize how quickly writing against the lines becomes the new conformity.


Wally Bock said...

Conformity on one side, but Mrs. McKinley's third grade class on the other. Whenever Mrs. McKinley asked a question you could be sure of two things. You could be sure that there was an answer. You could be sure that Mrs. McKinley already had it.

The employment interview questions you describe are Mrs. McKinley question. And they fail the basic purpose of asking questions in an interview which is to find out more about the other person.

Remember the old Caterpillar ad from years ago: "There no easy answers. There are only intelligent solutions."

Michael Wade said...


I like the creativity of some of the case questions but rather than dealing with Mount Fuji, I'd prefer some solid hypothetical questions that directly deal with the job. It is possible to get very creative with those and yet have a serious indicator of how the person will perform. I confess to having some serious empathy with the person who walked out of the Seth Godin interview.