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April 27, 2007


Rich Hauck

First off, why are you interviewing them?

Jon Strande

Rich, I'd love to answer that question... but that is top secret. ;-) Seriously, any type of interview questio will do.


Hey Jon,

Here are two I like to use. They're similar, yet not identical, and I think they exercise two parts of the brain.

1) Tell me about a time you solved a problem where you initially had no idea what to do. Take your time; there's no rush to answer.

2) You've just won a 3-month all-expenses paid trip to anywhere you choose on the planet. The only catch is you have to leave at 6:00am tomorrow and you won't be able to communicate with anyone at work the whole time you're gone. What will you do today to insure that your business affair will be in order when you return?


P.S. These questions mainly exercise one's ability to think creatively. They're about your problem-solving processes. They also test one's ability to tell a coherent story. If you were looking to elicit social styles, you'd perhaps use the second (Do they focus on how their people will react? Do they give commands? Focus on process nuts and bolts? Look at the strategic big picture?), but probably would use different questions altogether.

Jon Strande


Great questions! I really like the second! I've got a couple of those problem-solving ones (from the book 'How Would you Move Mt. Fuji). I also really like the "take your time..." line. :-)

Thank you!




"Take your time" is important, because people feel an inherent need to fill dead air, and with these questions, a little dead air is a good thing.


P.S. With respect to How I Would Move Mt. Fuji there are two possible responses: 1) The Elmer Fudd approach "Vewy, vewy carefuwwy!", and 2) massive application of Spooky Action at a Distance!!


Thanks! Those are questions that should be taught to all interviewers. I would feel comfortable asking and answering any of those questions.
I was interviewed for a job a few years ago and was asked the following question. "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" I, needless to say, fumbled the question, was not offered the job, and was highly irritated that a perfect stranger felt that question was a good way to make decisions regarding my work ethic, ambition and personality. Would you mind telling me what you think of that question, or give me a pointer on how to answer it?

Jon Strande


Thank you for the comment! As for the '5 years' question, that really depends on the person answering it, obviously, and the type of job it is. On one hand, things have changed very little in the world in the last couple of thousand years - caring about people is still the most important skill one can have and grow... time won't change that. So, any answer that I would give would have some portion about learning more about people. If you're going for a tech job, then you could probably speak about some next logical career step: from programmer to project manager (if that is your ambition).

Some people might ask that to find out if this job is really your true aspiration in life or if you are going to come in, collect a paycheck, complain, and leave in 2 years. Wow, that sounded harsh, huh? ;-)

I think most interview questions, as I said, are a means to get at a conversation - to get people to feel comfortable with you.

What do you want to do with your life? Really? That is sort of the crux of the question I think... do you want to start your own business? Write a book?

For me, it is really making a difference in other peoples lives... so anything I can do to have a more positive impact is what I see myself doing (rather ambiguous answer, sorry!) in the future.

One final thought, and this is something you can use to answer any question you aren't sure of... respond with a question of your own:

"How do you think the responsibilities of this position will change in the next 5 years?"

Let them answer and then respond to that. I wouldn't use that too often in an interview... but it might buy you some time to come up with a good answer. You could also sort of rhetorically ask and answer that question yourself - "I think this position will require someone to be able to do X, and over the next several years that will only become more important. I'm going to do Y, to build my skills in that area".

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