What’s the No. 1 interview question of 2030?

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Follow the bouncing ball here:

That last bullet point is important because most companies have some type of year-over-year raise or bonus structure. So even if you bring in a rank-and-file hire in 2010 and he/she is still around in 2015, that has now begun to cost you some legit money — that maybe at the time you were like “Eh, this is just headcount.” It’s hard to get jobs in the modern era. People stick around places longer than you think. Your organization’s No. 1 fixed cost going out is usually salaries. It’s almost 2016. Why can’t we be more scientific about how we bring people into organizations?

Here’s a cool article on Harvard Business Review that tries to explain this concept of “self-quantification” as the future of the interview process:

If actions speak louder than words, then deliberately measuring your own actions makes you demonstrably numerate as well as more articulate. Whether counting steps or counting calories, the “quantified self” movement has quickly become an important platform for people to monitor what matters to them. As one venture capitalist recently remarked to me during a conversation about workplace analytics, “I want my entrepreneurs checking their phones for something more than messages.”

It’s like this: if you know you’re overweight and you start using a FitBit or calorie tracker, that shows you’re aware of a problem and are taking steps to fix it. Isn’t that the type of employee an organization wants? It’s all about using available data and analytics to make yourself better and more productive.

So, all that said … what’s the potential No. 1 interview question of the future?

Once upon a time, “What do you think is your biggest weakness?” was the go-to “gotcha” job interview question for MBAs, managers, and executives. Better now to ask, “How do you measure how you’re improving your biggest weakness?”

This is a huge paradigm shift, because when you ask someone “What’s your biggest weakness?” and they say back some garbage like “Well, Tony, I’m just such a perfectionist!” — that’s just an answer out in the ether. It doesn’t mean anything. First of all, who cares what a person thinks is their biggest weakness if you have no idea what they plan to do about it?

“What’s your biggest weakness?”

“I’m fat.”

(pause)

“Tell me about a time you dealt with a tough co-worker…”

It’s so dumb. It’s just checking boxes — which admittedly is what most of the hiring process really is, at base — but what if we moved hiring to a place where it went like this:

  • Hey, tell us a problem you’ve seen about yourself
  • Hey, tell us how you decided to fix it
  • Hey, tell us what you measured and how you knew you were fixing it
  • Hey, give us some broader context around it

If we all want to become these big, bad Big Data and Analytics organizations that really make measurable decisions (!) about consumer tendencies (!) and all the other unicorns we’ve been promised for the last half-decade, then don’t we need to get people in the door who actually understand data, tracking, self-awareness, and what metrics can be used for?

My name’s Ted Bauer; I blog here regularly and you can learn about hiring me for freelance and contract gigs as well. You can also subscribe to my newsletter.

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Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money: http://thecontextofthings.com/hire-freelance-writer-ted-bauer/

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