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Early Dotcommer’s Contrarian Interview Qu

My recent posts on interviewing reminded me a small piece I’d read on the inc.com columns. There one scribe suggests his most revealing interview question as;

“Tell me about your friends.”

The well-known quote sprang to mind that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” of which I blogged a few years back.

This coincided with a number of other random ‘best interview question’ blogging I’d come across lately. Indeed, I singled out a quartet from a software exec, one from a web streamer and a further from an ops techie over the past.

I normally avoid such nonsense. I’ve trained Management – both Line & Senior – on the rigours of interviewing salespeople. They always seem to want a quick cheeky checklist of amazingly revealing questions. If only it were that simple. Yet these very types of content sail perilously close to such doldrums.

So when I happened across another such morsel my eyes naturally began to roll.

This time courtesy of a dotcom hero. Peter Thiel once helped found PayPal, invested early in Facebook and latterly has taught a module at Stanford.

In the book of his course’s lecture notes, From Zero To One, he opens with what he terms his contrarian question. Guaranteed to show the real courage and genius of the thinker.

“What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”

He lists a trio of useless answers he’s received before stating his own;

“most people think the future of the world will be defined by globalization, but the truth is that technology matters more”

Baffling. On many levels. I don’t know anyone that believes globalisation is today’s big driver. Maybe it says more about Silicon Valley than those who behind true cause rally.

Still, his construct is a winner though. I’m further reminded of the devilish question like

“Do you think the quality of our menswear products are as high as our home department products?”
(Asked at Marks & Spencer, to Technologist candidate, London)

The ‘contrarian’ works because there’s no hiding place. Whilst a little broad for Sales, you might tweak it by specifically examining a “selling truth” rather. Even if I suspect our Pete might rail against this as it is the apparent breadth that is its deceptive weapon.

What might salespeople suggest?

2.0 is not the next selling nirvana? Value trumps price? Process is the only platform?’

Whichever, whatever. It is still a worthy addition to your interrogations.

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