Kristian Glass - Do I Smell Burning?

Mostly technical things

Why Us? A Favourite Interview Question

One of my favourite questions to ask in an initial job interview/screening is this:

What attracted you to the role with us?

Plus the absolutely vital follow-up:

(“I want a new job and yours didn’t sound completely awful” is an entirely reasonable answer!)

That second part is key.

On its own, the question risks seeming like an uninteresting request for praise - “tell us how awesome we are!”— as The Oatmeal has so graphically illustrated in “The Six Crappiest Interview Questions”.

But it’s a question that can have significant value, especially when asked early on.

Sometimes there’s a huge expectation mismatch - whatever the candidate is looking for is not something they’re going to get from us - and the sooner that’s discovered and discussed, the better for everyone.

Sometimes (though rarely) people can actually “fail” the question. I am absolutely 100% open to hiring people who, at this stage, have nothing more than “this kinda looks interesting, let’s talk more” - it’s a two-way process after all - but if someone’s only response is to pour abuse on their current co-workers and workplace, then perhaps they don’t have the perspective and the thoughtfulness that I’m looking for.

Even if I don’t get much useful information about the candidate, I get feedback on our advert and how we’re perceived.

Finally, there’s a signalling aspect with the flippant second half. I try to run an inclusive thoughtful hiring process that reflects what we actually value. I don’t want people standing on ceremony, I don’t want arbitrary hoop jumping. The more open and honest I can encourage candidates to be, the better.

Try it, see what responses you get!