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Patsy Cline and the Deserted Island - Questions for an Interview

by Beth Deison Smith

posted in Business

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On average, I interview about 50 people a week for various positions. During the sessions, the hiring managers and I certainly expect candidates to ask questions about the organization, culture, job descriptions, management style and more. Once in a while, we will get a series of questions that will confuse us.
Recently, at the end of an interview, a candidate asked me, "Can I ask you a fun question?" I responded with, "Sure!" The candidate then went on to ask me, "If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only have 1 c.d. for your c.d. player, which one would it be?" I said "Patsy Cline's greatest hits." "Awesome," he sighed, looking grateful for the response.
I began to ask myself about the point of his question. While his question was creative, I wondered what he had discover about the company culture? In all reality, he had learned nothing. What does he now know about the job that he did not before? Nothing. What information does he now have about the company, its people or the job he was being interviewed for that he had not known before? None. So, why ask the question?
People are constantly asking me what questions I ask a candidate in an interview to uncover any potential issues and/or determine their fit for the position. I tell them as it is no secret. I ask questions to learn more about your relationship with your past managers and co-workers, how you handle being overwhelmed, and how much research was done on the company for which they are interviewing. These questions all apply to the job and their performance when executing the job. I do not ask about deserted islands, how many golf balls fill an airplane, or if you were a cheese, which one would it be, because those questions cannot be evaluated. Whether you consider yourself as blue cheese or swiss cheese does not help me determine if you can do the job that I am asking you to do and if you want to do the job that I am asking you to do. Questions related to Patsy Cline can come later after they have been hired.
And truth be told, I would actually not be listening to Patsy on that island. I would use the c.d. to reflect the sun to a passing airplane so that I could be rescued.
About the Author: Interested in hiring more effectively? A-list Interviews provides training and hiring services to empower employers to more effectively interview. Our 7 step interview process using the Response Analysis System™ is highly effective, with a 91% success rate of hires still employed by the company after 12 months. - Learn more at
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