Is this the bungee jump of the job hunting world?

Mon, 07/05/2012 - 17:17 -- nick

This is one of Richmond Solutions' great blogs on interview skills and the new longer interviews some are doing. Some good pointers below could help you out even when some of the questions seem unanswerable, and it should teach you how to think about the interview process. There are some fantastic sample questions too, which you might want to try to answer for your own amusement.

'You've heard of extreme sports: now for extreme interviewing. You may even have read about this over the past couple of months, the Daily Mail breaking the shocking news of this new way of interviewing people on 11th March and since then discussion of these interviewing methods have been doing the rounds of the cyber world.

This is, in some ways, appropriate. The pioneers of these methods were the darlings of Silicon Valley – Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, and their ilk – who devised the tactic as a way of seeing if candidates could think on their feet and be creative under pressure. Apparently, there are no right or wrong answers but, then, I guess it's all about the impression you make.

The point is, you can't prepare. But now the cat's out of the bag, let's give this some thought. The most quoted question of the "extreme" school of interviewing is, "What kind of dinosaur are you?"

No wrong answers they say, but I've seen people saying that, saying Tyrannosaurus Rex is not a good idea. On one hand, since this is the most common dinosaur, you're likely to be thought unimaginative (tough if, like me, you're not big on dinosaurs). On the other, the answer might be interpreted to mean that you're a bully and a predator. So let's cross that off the list.

The Daily Mail suggested that saying diplodocus meant that you're a sexist. Not sure about that one. From what I remember the diplodocus doesn't have much in the way of brain power, which might be a more pressing reason not to hold it up as an example at a job interview.

Of course, if you don't know much about dinosaurs, you could also try venturing that perhaps they didn’t actually die out, but remain among us as birds and then choose a suitable bird (tip: avoid albatross). If you try that answer, tell me how many points you get for out of the box thinking!

Extreme interviewing does not stop at dinosaurs though, so what other questions should you be ready for? All of the following are said to be genuine questions.

• If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it? According to my sources, this is a favourite of Hewlett-Packard's. Think Deutschland Uber Alles for the answer.
• On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you? Weirdness is of course a relative concept and a subjective one too.
• What is your favourite TV commercial? It would be a brave soul who says "Go Compare" and an even braver one who starts singing, unless you are auditioning to be the new Giò Compario.
• Are you exhaling warm air? I mean, do you need to get that personal!
• What do you think of garden gnomes? Perhaps they should all be given the travel opportunities of the gnomic star of the 2001 movie Amélie.
• Name me three Lady Gaga songs? Remind me to look that one up before I go in, along with the company accounts and strategic plan.
• With a four-minute hourglass and a seven-minute hourglass, how can you measure exactly nine minutes – without taking longer than nine minutes? At the end of the day, that has to be a feat of observation.

In some ways, there is nothing new in this. Reading about this took me back about 10 years to when a friend of mine was applying for traineeships as a solicitor. She had been asked to prepare a presentation around the topic of which film character she'd like to be. We decided to avoid Erin Brockovitch on the grounds that it was too obvious. Where did we end up? Mary Poppins because she was popular, fair minded and got things done. I've no idea whether my friend used it in the end but I'm sure she would have been one of a kind if she had!'

Heidi Nicholson