Job seekers often underprepare for the interview. Understandably, it can be difficult to prepare answers for the millions of different questions they might be asked by an HR professional or potential boss. And that’s probably why the answers to my favorite interview question vary so greatly.
The Interview Question Candidates Get Wrong
My favorite interview question is this: If you had a blank canvas and could paint your ideal job, what would it be?
I guess it’s kind of quirky, and perhaps that’s why I get quirky answers. When I’ve been in a position to hire people and I’ve asked this question, the candidates never described the position they were interviewing for. It didn’t matter what position it was or how experienced the candidate was. They never described the job duties outlined in the job description for the position they were interviewing for.
Why It is OK to Get It Wrong
Our true selves don’t want to work where we are every day; very few people are doing what they’d be doing if they didn’t have obligations such as family and mortgage payments due each month. I understand that as the person in a position to hire you. Although it would seem that the “right” answer would be the position that the candidate is applying for, I see a lot of value in the other answers I have heard in response to the question, “If you had a blank canvas and could
paint your ideal job, what would it be?”
The responses I’ve gotten have detailed positions in other industries, the candidate’s interest in creating their own company, and even a desire to work at a restaurant on the beach in the Bahamas. These answers might surprise and disappoint a less experienced interviewer, but I know that these answers reveal more than they seem to. These answers, though they seem random, show how a candidate thinks, whether or not they’re innovative, and what their values are.
As an HR professional, I’m most interested in hiring authentic people, and when candidates give unfiltered answers to my questions, especially the blank canvas one, I get a good look at who they really are and that helps me figure out how well they’ll fit into the company I’m hiring for.
About the Author: Kimberly S. Reed, CDP, Corporatepreneur™, Managing Partner and CEO, Reed Development Group, LLC (RDG), has earned a reputation as one of the most dynamic speakers and trainers. Reed ignites audiences internationally on topics ranging from entrepreneurial leadership, leadership, professional and personal development, diversity & inclusion, personal resiliency and presentation skills. For nearly fifteen years Reed has helped executives and professionals develop a “Y.E.S.” (You, Empower, Self) mentality. After over a decade as a diversity and inclusion strategist for some of the largest companies in the world including PwC, Campbell Soup Company, Merrill Lynch and Deloitte, Reed had the ability to develop innovative solutions to identifying, attracting , retaining and developing top diverse talent. Reed has acquired key skills that have enabled her to position organizations and business units to increase recruitment, retention, deployment and the management of talent for Women and People of Color in record growth.