You may or may not remember Art Linkletter’s “House Party” daytime TV show with a segment where he interviewed precocious children and asked them open-ended questions? As titled, those kids said the darndest things!
So do adults.
Likewise, we have little experience answering open-ended questions. Yes-no answers are safer, finite, and we move on to the next question. Whew, got through that, what could be next?
Equally, the discomfort of the standard interview question would you tell me about yourself?” makes us squirm. Yes, we can practice the answer, but somehow, in the heat of the moment it never comes out as we rehearsed, right?
BTW, a new standard job interview question I am aware of is what did you learn in the pandemic? Get ready. Variation: what silver lining did you discover from the pandemic?
You already know that one of my favorite questions is why do you do what you do? It makes some people fidget because it is unexpected. It’s easier to answer the expected what do you do? But that’s fact-driven and not very penetrating to get to know you better, so I like my question better.
When I meet someone for the first time, their answers range from I work at… or I am the parent of x kids, or whatever defines them top-of-mind. Easy escape, but I’m not letting you get away with that.
That’s just the problem, we provide easy when posed with easy. Conversely, thoughtful questions deserves equally cerebral answers.
Your top-of-mind practiced, knee-jerk reply is defensive. I don’t mean to put you on the defensive, I just want to know what makes you tick so we can leap into a more meaningful conversation, not a factoid-y interrogation.
Be prepared if we meet for the first time. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
I am seeking an answer that is introspective, contemplative, thought-provoking so we go on to the follow-up question(s).
Be sure your LinkedIn profile answers my defining question(s) as deeply as it is meant to probe. My next questions (I have about 15 in my head, and I am not giving them away here!) will be easier to address if you start me off well by reading your profile before we meet (because I always do!)
Why do you do what you do?