The Key Question in a Job Interview

Job Interview Hiring the right person for a given job can be a bit of a craps shoot for many business owners — and for some HR managers as well. It seems obvious that the most important things you want to answer are whether they can do the job and whether they fit into your team. But those are not paramount.

Guessing again? Integrity, intelligence, suitability to your “fast-paced environment”, expertise, ambition, work ethic… all are plausible guesses about what the most important factor might be in a potential hire. And certainly, most of these are important factors, but none of them are critical for the interview. I’m assuming, of course, that you aren’t going to make people fill out some inane aptitude test or issue some irrelevant quiz about what kind of tree they’d most like to be.

The Benefit of Failure

J.K. Rowling at Harvard Commencement Via TED’s Best of the Web Talks, I discovered J.K. Rowling‘s Harvard Commencement Address in June 2008 on The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination. The subject brings up an important concept — the fact that although we list only successes on our CVs, it is typically the failures that teach us more. Comparatively, success perhaps teaches us very little. When was the last time you judged someone as qualified because of the lessons learned in their last failure? Granted, this might not be the single best criteria, but someone who’s never failed may well be an underachiever stuck within the constraints of mediocre thinking.

J.K. Rowling:

Job Interview Presentation: Sprucing Up or Deception?

Overheard in a supermarket checkout line this past weekend, one woman to another:

“Oh my God, [Leanne] bought a pair of fake glasses and wore them to an interview because she felt more intelligent. I mean, it’s not like they’re going to say, ‘Hire the one with glasses because she’s more intelligent.'”

It just got me to thinking, and wondering if Leanne is (a) being dishonest with her prospective employer, albeit in a seemingly benign way, or (b) creative, original, and smart. I’m sure the interviewer would be able to size up pretty quickly whether she’s an airhead or the real deal, but my jury is still out on whether or not the action is duplicitous.