Three Interview Questions That Might Not Reveal Anything

Jeff Haden, over at Inc, says that these three interview questions reveal everything. You are supposed to go down the person’s resume and ask them about each and every job they have ever had. The questions are:

  1. How did you find out about the job?
  2. What did you like about the job before you started?
  3. Why did you leave?

I like these questions because they are deceptively simple. But I don’t think they reveal everything about the interviewer. They reveal tons about the cultures the interviewer left.

For example, I’ve left jobs because I had nothing to do (I’m serious). I’ve left because I was fired because I was pregnant (yes, I’m serious, and no, that was not legal). I left two jobs because I discovered I was not paid as much as the men were–yes, I’m serious, and yes that happened twice, and no, I’m not going to say that in an interview. Do you think I’m nuts? I would like to think that the discrimination I encountered is long gone.

I’m going to suggest in a separate post that people looking for a job start to use them as part of their what’s-my-pattern, to help them understand themselves, so they can decide if their patterns are working for themselves or not.

These questions actually tell you a lot about the interviewer’s culture–what he or she thinks it’s okay to discuss. At least, until he or she goes pale or looks pained or says, “Okay, I’ve heard enough now.”

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3 Comments

  1. Lisa Crispin

    I’m a bit confused whether these questions are for the interviewer to ask the interviewee, or the other way around? Should these sentences say “interviewee” instead of “interviewer”? But I don’t think they reveal everything about the interviewer. They reveal tons about the cultures the interviewer left.

    A friend just got asked this about her five previous jobs in an interview – she found it rather annoying and pointless.

    Reply
    • johanna

      Supposedly, these questions are for the interviewer to ask the interviewee. I’m not surprised your friend found these questions annoying. She did leave those jobs.

      Reply
  2. Gowri

    I disagree. The reason a person left a previous job says a lot about the person and their motivations. Whether they left for money, or for better learning, or for career advancement, or problem with a culture (which you want to know, since you may have the same problem in your company) etc. This can help understand the person’s priorities in their job search.

    Reply

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