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May 3, 2016

You Have 30 Seconds to Sell Me This Pen

You Have 30 Seconds to Sell Me This Pen

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks | 29 Comments

I’m not a “Where do you think you will be in five years?” kind of interviewer. I don’t really care. Ideally, if the candidate ends up coming to work at SoapBox, we get to work on that together. Don’t get me wrong, I want people to have motivation and personal goals, but I feel pretty adamantly I can get to the answer without asking dumb questions.  “Tell me your weaknesses.” Umm, really? Do you think they didn’t rehearse that ahead of time?

I actually hate traditional interviewing. People are always surprised to learn this about me. I feel like the whole concept of two people sitting in a room, trying to impress one another (or in some cases trip the other person up) is an archaic means of human communication. I would not rapid fire questions at any of my friends (unless that are being idiots and then I may fire out a series of “why” questions) and take notes while they are talking. Weird.

Truth is, I am not interested in traditional interviewing – AT ALL. I am not one to ask foolish questions and expect to get some sort of meaningful insight into whether the person is a good fit for SoapBox, and SoapBox a good fit for them. I want to get to know the person I am interviewing – their real personality. Not the “I-am-in-a-job-interview person.”

My goal during the interview is to get the candidate OUT of interview mode. I can read their credentials on their resume. I don’t want a memorized dictation of their written resume coupled with some added BS on top. Not cool. I like to ask things like:

  • What did you have for breakfast today?
  • How old were you when you started doing your own laundry?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • What’s your best friend’s name? How long have you been friends?
  • What would your best friend say about you? Can we call them now?
  • What types of people annoy you the most?
  • What was your first job?
  • What was the last website you visited?
  • What is your favorite store?
  • In the last week, what was your happiest moment?

Don’t get me wrong. I need to ask some traditional questions to understand if the person has the ability to do the actual job. But at SoapBox, candidates interview with multiple people and I trust they will do a decent job screening the individual before they get to me.  Candidates need to be qualified and also instantly likable. They need to think on their feet. They need to perform under unexpected conditions. Asking traditional interview questions doesn’t get me there.

If you are going to ask your employees to think outside the box (I gag when I hear that phrase) then you need to as well. One of our core guiding principles at SoapBox is:

Scout out and find unique talent who may be otherwise passed over. Seek individuals with inherent values of self-motivation and the desire to be a part of something bigger. Hire those special people who already have the “non-teachable” skills which make great people, well, great.

And never, ever, ever ask someone to “Sell me this pen in 30 seconds.”