Updated: Apr 21
This is a backup of an article I posted on Linkedin.
April 2, 2019
I thought about how I historically shot down questions that interviewers used to ask. Their questions often meant nothing. Out of empathy, I wondered what I would ask if I was on the other side of the table. First, let me share a few bullshit questions often asked:
1. How did you hear about the position?
Does it really matter? Does it really make any difference at all?
2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I think of the bigger philosophical issue here-- the nature of the noun "your" is referring to.
The reason everyday people struggle with this question is that they have not compartmentalized their predicates (potential attributes). In retrospect, they see inconsistencies in their past behaviour. They had interests they do not have anymore. They like things they never liked before. Those who make a strong claim to strengths and weaknesses that are not physical, such as the ability to lift a certain amount of weight, are either lying or have a very constant sense of self. They have inflexible egos. Unfortunately, the former is a liar or just a job seeker who has over-prepared himself. The latter is a slave to his own self because he has contained himself in it and wants to continue being contained in order to be consistent. That is a case of self-imposed slavery.
Second, what should you ask? Ask things you would wonder about a relative, a date, or a new friend! When you meet a cousin for the first time, do you ask about their strengths and weakness? When you go on a date with someone, do you ask how they first heard about you? When you make a friend, do you ask why you should add them to your friend list? This isn't how you get to know someone. You know how stupid this is. If you have asked any of the above stupid questions, you have been a stupid interviewer. And you shouldn't be that.
Here are some real questions that you can ask if you actually care about your candidates -
What do you do?
What do you enjoy doing?
What kind of books you read, movies you watch, and places you visit?
What do you think you want in life?
What kinds of jobs you have previously had? What caused you to leave?
Do you think people should get a second chance?
Do you enjoy assuming risks or staying conservative with risks?
Most of these questions are answerable and tell a lot about an individual. Depending on the individual and what they say, more real questions can be framed that honestly need answers. Depending on the nature of the job, the questions can become specific.