What do CEOs ask their recruiters and hiring managers about the final candidates competing for a job or internship? In a letter to his shareholders, Jeff Bezos shared the grilling he gives someone who is recommending a job candidate for his company. Below you’ll find his questions and some tips that will get you to the top of the list of the organization you are pursuing.
- Will you admire this person?
“If you think about the people you’ve admired in your life, they are probably people you’ve been able to learn from or take an example from,” Bezos wrote in his letter to shareholders, adding that he’s always tried to work only with people he admires.
Interview tip for candidates: Think about your personal brand and lessons learned from earned experience more just than your hard skills. It’s unlikely a qualified manager will need you to teach them how to use social media, how to build a website, how to use PowerPoint, or how to analyze data. However, you can teach a superior how you have developed patience, diplomacy, respect, integrity, inclusiveness, resilience, and other valuable personal traits.
In a job interview, you might hear a behavioral question that allows you to communicate these traits. Be ready to describe a difficult situation that you addressed not just with a solution but also with finesse, using your personal traits. You’ll be evaluated by your character, collaboration, and self-management skills, as much as your problem-solving acumen.
- “Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?”
“The bar has to continuously go up,” Bezos wrote in his letter to shareholders.
Interview tip for candidates: Think about how you can show you will remain engaged and team-oriented not just when you are hired but for the entire length of time you are with the organization. How can you demonstrate you are committed to be a life-long learner? What habits and routines keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date outside of your formal education?
In a job interview, you might hear an informational question that allows you to share the educational TED talks and podcasts you listen to, what websites you visit for objective news and information, and how you stay engaged with the sector or industries that interest you. You’ll be evaluated on more than what you can contribute once you’re hired. You want to show that you take responsibility for continually up-leveling the knowledge and skills that you bring to the workplace.
- “Along what dimension might this person be a superstar?″
In addition to their skills and experience, Bezos said it’s important to consider a candidate’s individual talents.
“One person here is a National Spelling Bee champion,” he wrote to shareholders. “I suspect it doesn’t help her in her everyday work, but it does make working here more fun if you can occasionally snag her in the hall with a quick challenge: ‘Onomatopoeia!’”
Interview tip for candidates: You might get a question like, “What makes you special?” or “How do you think you are different than other candidates interviewing for this position?” Consider all your outside activities, hobbies, and special talents. What makes you fun, interesting, and someone who makes the workplace more enjoyable? Perhaps you have a knack for gift-giving – you always know the perfect present or memento that will make someone’s day. Or, if you’re an athlete, songwriter, or great mixologist, you will be a great addition to an organization’s internal events planning team.
Get Ready to Be the Best Choice
While you may never work for a company owned by Jeff Bezos, all of these questions are great ways for you to prepare to present yourself as the best candidate for interviewing with any company that cares about its employees and its culture. And, isn’t that the type of organization you want to join?
- Consider each of these questions and jot down your answer.
- Refine your answers so they reflect a great narrative about you.
- Practice your answers so you are ready to “wow” your interviewer.