Saturday, December 14, 2013

What Does Bruno Mars Know About Acing That Job Interview? Apparently Quite a Bit

The interview was over, and my colleague popped his head in my office to tell me how it'd gone.

"She looked great on paper," he told me, "And I'm sure she could do the job. But I just didn't like her answer to one of my questions."

"Oh yeah? What question?" 

"I asked if she'd be willing to stay in the position for at least three years."

Hmmm ...

"And?" I prompted him.

"And she said, 'As long as the company is good to me.'”

Ouch. Wrong answer. Neeeeeeeext—

Well, at least as far as my colleague was concerned.

I thought the candidate’s response was pretty funny, but then again, sass doesn’t frighten me. So long as sass doesn’t cross the line into disrespect and is married to high competence, I’m good.

So I asked my colleague, “Do you think she'd be interested in working for HR?”

And I remembered this conversation yesterday when I read "Want A Players? Here’s The One Interview Question You Need to Ask," by Marc Hoag.

In the article, Hoag defines an A Player as “maddeningly motivated” and “hungry;” someone who is “staggeringly brilliant, inexorably driven to succeed.”

Oh come on, Marc. All that?

And the “one interview question” A-player seekers should ask?

“Are you willing to work nights and weekends to get an assignment done on time?”

Why does Hoag’s article bring to mind the lyrics to “Catch a Grenade for Ya” by Bruno Mars?

“I'd catch a grenade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I'd jump in front of a train for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
You know I'd do anything for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Oh, oh
I would go through all this pain
Take a bullet straight through my brain
Yes, I would die for ya baby
But you won't do the same”

It’s not that a willingness to work nights and weekends is such a big deal. I’ve done both as an employee, and as an entrepreneur it’s a given.

It’s just that this attitude that employees should be willing to sacrifice everything (or at least lie and say they’d be willing to sacrifice everything) before being deemed “top tier” is so flipping tiresome.

Because let’s face it, this question about weekends and evenings isn’t really about weekends and evenings. It’s about finding that person prepared to say she’d be willing to “catch a grenade for ya,” and why the hell are you asking this question, anyway?

Even if the potential employee crosses her heart and hopes to die, swears on a stack of bibles as tall as Mount Everest, and does a pinky square to prove her sincerity, she’s lying if she claims she’d catch a grenade for you, employer.

She’s read the stats, and she knows the deal. Undying loyalty on her part would be foolish.

(I’d add that it’s completely unnecessary. An employee can be highly productive without letting work encroach on every other area of his life.)

A commenter to Hoag’s article suggested a better question. "
Tell me about a time when you had to work nights and weekends in order to get a task or project done, especially when you had demands on your time from outside work."

And I can totally get on board with that. Let’s stick to what the candidate has done, rather than posing goofy hypotheticals for the purpose of getting in his head and testing how “hungry” he is. 


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