Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Creative interviewing


Are you a Lost fan? Last week's episode featured John Locke applying for a job at an employment agency and being asked--much to his displeasure--"What kind of animal would you describe yourself as?"

Bizarre? Yes. But not uncommon during job interviews today. Prospective employees are regularly being asked:
  • If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?


  • If you were a car, what kind of car would you be?


  • If you were an item in the supermarket, what would you be?


  • If you had a theme song for when you walked into a room, what would it be? (Mine would be The Ramones "I Want to Be Sedated," but I don't think that would get me the job!)

So what's behind this trend toward the Barbara Walters' line of questioning? According to career coach Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio of Six Figure Start (www.sixfigurestart.com), employers are trying to schuss out if candidates will fit in with their corporate culture, and how confident and creative they are--the latter being an increasingly important quality in today's marketplace, where companies are seeking new and innovative solutions and products to get ahead and each prospective employee is up against five other applicants for every job.

Connie says there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but it is important to go with the flow in an interview and answer with a straight face (or at least a sense of humor!). Think about the company you're applying to and try to come up with solid answers--in advance--to potential interview questions. Make yourself stand out from the rest of the applicants by being thoughtful and unique. A little whimsy never hurt either!

For more on the subject, check out Connie's interview on NPR. Here's the link:

www.thetakeaway.org/people/connie-thanasoulis-cerrachio/









31 comments:

marthaandme said...

I wouldn't know what to answer if asked these questions. I can't imagine asking anyone a question like that and don't even know how I would evaluate the answer.

gemusings said...

So funny..yes, I am a LOST fan! Of course, if asked, I'd say that I'm a squirrel ;)

Alexandra Grabbe said...

All I could think of was how happy I am to own my own B&B and not have to answer questions in any more job interviews. Can't help but wonder whether I'd fit into the corporate world if I told an interviewer that I saw myself as an organic peach?

Christine said...

Very interesting. If there is no right or wrong answer, how do they evaluate a candidate, I wonder?

Sheryl said...

I would never be prepared for questions like those; they sure are different than the usual interview questions you hear, like, "what's your strongest point?" Easy.
But I could see if you were interviewing for a very creative-type position being asked something a bit quirky like that. All I can say is I'm glad I don't have to answer!

The Writer's [Inner] Journey said...

I take this as a way for both interviewer and interviewee to learn about each other. It can throw the interviewee off, but such a question can help the person decide whether or not they want to pursue the rel't - personal, professional or otherwise.

Alisa Bowman said...

Someone recently asked me about the speed of light during an interview. I just replied honestly, "I might have known that at one time, but I don't know it now. The science part of my brain got taken over by the word part." I got hired for that particular job, as it had nothing to do with the speed of light and everything to do with words.

Steph Auteri said...

We were actually just talking about this in my coaching teleclass the other week. Our prof told us the story of a friend who was asked in an interview: What kind of burger would you be? Her response: What does that have to do with the job I'm interviewing for?

Apparently, hiring managers are using these questions to -- yes -- gauge personality, and see how an applicant might fit into the work environment, but also to see if applicants are able to think on their feet, and how well they'll be able to react to out-of-left-field requests and questions from clients.

I'd probably just sputter and fizzle out, though, if faced with such a wacky question!

sarah henry said...

Animal: Dolphin

Tree: Eucalyptus

Car: Punch Buggy

Grocery Item: Kale, of course :)

Song: Is there one called 'Put me out of my misery now?"

How absurd. Like it's not hard enough to find employment these days!

Nancy Monson said...

Loving this discussion! Yes,it is an absurd world and I am so glad that I'm freelance!

Connie says that it's not a specific answer employers are looking for, but rather they're trying to gauge if you can think on your feet, adapt, how you present yourself, your confidence, your creativity, your personality.

Susan Johnston said...

I was once asked "what Muppet character would you be?" when I was applying to move into an apartment. The other roommates wanted to make sure I'd be fun. I put Miss Piggy, not because I'm conceited like she is, but because it was the first character that came to mind. I got the apartment, but later realized that the roommates were a little too silly for my taste. That should have been a tip-off!

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Jesaka Long said...

I love this topic, Nancy. Before turning to words full-time, I was a recruiter. While I never asked questions like the ones you list, candidates often told me that I "made them think." They were shocked to find someone interested in what they wanted. Surprising! When I was in a corporate comm job, I had several co-workers who prided themselves on asking oddball questions, for no real reason. One of those questions was "What's your favorite font?"

MyKidsEatSquid said...

I like Jesaka's point that sometimes recruiters just like to ask oddball questions for fun. As an interviewee I don't mind the occasional weird question.

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Karen Moore said...

Nancy, to me some types of 'creative' interviews or questions border on rudeness. I don't think anyone has shown a relationship between such questions and work performance, although I guess if you want to be a personal assistant to an egomaniac or want a mercurial client, the interview would winnow out the folks who are not interested and prepare you for your work environment. But as a former boss who used to hire folks known as ‘knowledge workers,' I looked for experience, competence, judgment and an ability to actually finish a project on time. To me, everything else was secondary.

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