I’ve known for a while now that my process for selecting new employees is a little unorthodox, and I let candidates know this right away. I usually start speaking before the door is even closed, so many people in the office have heard me say the same line again and again: “This isn’t an interview.”
But it’s not just a line; it’s genuine. I don’t believe that the standard interview question and answer session works. The reason is that as soon as you ask a question, you’re putting the candidate in a box. You condition people by the very nature of the question. This is a well-known psychological phenomenon. For example, if you ask “how much will you contribute to your 401(k),” the answer will be different than if you ask “how little will you contribute to your 401(k).” In the context of an interview, this phenomenon is even more pronounced: anytime you ask a question, you can bet that it’s leading. Good interviewers are best suited for television or radio, where simply by their questions they shape the story that’s being told. Good interviewers are not suited to choosing good employees.
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