[Job candidate enters room, begins to sit…]
HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER (HR): Remain standing, please, and tell me something I may not have heard before about this company.
JOB CANDIDATE (JC): Can I use my phone?
HR: This isn’t Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. There’s no lifeline call. Thank you for your time. HUMAN RESOURCES TRAINEE (HT): (to candidate) Thanks. The receptionist wil validate your parking pass.
[Next Job Candidate enters room]
HR: What’s the last thing you do before leaving a rest room?
JC: The last thing I do? Wash my hands, of course.
HR: If you’re in the left lane on a highway and a car is on your tail, you...?
JC: ...change lanes to let her pass.
HR: After you’ve loaded groceries from your shopping cart into the car, you...
JC: ...bring the cart back to where I got it.
HR: Thank you. I’d like you to meet the department head who’s the direct report for this position.
JC: I’d love to meet him.
HR: Just give us a few minutes and we’ll escort you to their office.
HR: (to HT) Talk to me.
HT: I’ve never heard interview questions like those. Very interesting.
HR: Do you know why we ask those kinds of questions?
HT: I know for Google job interviews, the questions can come out of left field, not related to the job, like your questions.
HR: Why is that?
HT: The candidate wouldn’t get this far if their experience didn’t meet your standards. There’s no sense asking about their skills at this point.
HR: Right. We already know they qualify to work here. But how they answer these types of questions gives us an inner view to their character and their behavior patterns. It’s a surprisingly effective and efficient way to determine if their values are aligned with our corporate values.
HT: There’s no way a resume can tell you that.
HR: Very good. So how did these candidates do?
HT: The second one obviously did well. You moved her to the next round of interviews.
HT: Well, for one, it’s not exactly a sign of good hygiene if someone skips the sink before leaving a bathroom.
HR: Yet there are people who hightail it out of there without lathering up.
HT: You don’t want to be shaking hands with them, that’s for sure.
HR: What else?
HT: You also want to hire people mature enough to abide by simple rules. He showed that by knowing the left lane is a passing lane, so you don’t hang out there with cars behind you.
HR: It also shows us that the person we’re looking to hire is considerate, aware of their surroundings, and not obstinate for its own sake.
HT: I see.
HM: Ever hear the expression, “The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything”?
HT: Not really.
HR: With these questions, it means you can tell a lot about a person from how they drive. If they’re reckless and rude on the road, odds are they’ll bring some of that behavioral baggage to work. A self-regarding, snarky attitude may work for them behind the wheel, but they won’t be working for us here, if I can help it.
HT: What about the shopping cart question?
HR: You tell me.
HT: If they’re too lazy to return the cart to its rightful place, it’s a sign of their lax work ethic?
HR: Good. And leaving the cart in the way of a vehicle is another red flag of rudeness.
HT: If you pushed it to the car, you can push it back to where it belongs.
HR: Precisely. Being a productive part of society is a team sport. We help and we look out for each other. Those who look out only for themselves are not who we want here.
HT: What about that first candidate. You were done with him almost before the door had closed behind him.
HR: I gave him a very tough question. Only the strong survive. I could tell right away from his posture he was a slacker. Sloppily dressed too. Bad optics for an interview.
HT: I’m not clear about how any job candidate would know something about this company that you don’t know?
HR: That’s not exactly how I worded it. I said “something I may not have heard before.”
HT: I’m not following...
HR: I want to find out how well they prepare for the interview. There’s no single right answer, but a very good response is for the candidate to tell us they asked friends and relatives what they know about or think of our products. Then they can come in here with that anecdotal, real world feedback.
HT: Ah. And even if that’s not their answer, the question tests how quick they think on their feet.
HR: Literally. That’s why I have candidates stand the entire interview. I’m doing them a favor, because, if they’re sharp to begin with, it helps keep them on edge.
HT: Which keeps their mind on edge as well.
HR: Nice job. Congratulations on passing your final simulation. Welcome to the company.
HT: Thanks so much. Can I sit now?
Bruce Apar is a writer, actor, consultant, and community volunteer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 914-275-6887