I’ve interviewed hundreds of people in my career. Most of the people turned out to be a great fit, but as anyone in the hiring role knows, you are ultimately making a guess at how someone will do in a role that you haven’t seen them do in your organization. And sometimes you guess wrong.
I’ll never forget interviewing one guy as I began our time by lobbing him the easiest open-ended question I had: “So, tell me a little about yourself.” I then watched in bizarre amazement as he paused for a few moments, looked around awkwardly, and replied, “I don’t know, tell me about you.” That potential hire was an easy pass and a short interview.
Much has been said about how to interview people well and how to impress others when you are the one being interviewed. I recently finished Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One (see: Amazon link) where he shares his favorite interview question. And I freakin love it.
“What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”
Thiel explains why he likes this question:
This question sounds easy because it’s straightforward. Actually, it’s very hard to answer. It’s intellectually difficult because the knowledge that everyone is taught in school is by definition agreed upon. And it’s psychologically difficult because anyone trying to answer must say something she knows to be unpopular. Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.
Courage is in even shorter supply than genius. And I agree, this is actually a tricky question to honestly answer. Regardless of the interview environment, I think this is a great question for us to ponder. Thiel explains that “A good answer takes the following form: ‘Most people believe in x, but the truth is the opposite of x.'”
I can think of a variety of my own answers to the question, and every one of them I’ve ever shared publicly in some form has cost me the support of others. That’s why most people have no desire to answer this question, let alone share their answer. Since I don’t want to lack the courage the question requires, I’ll share one of my answers here.
I believe that a person’s commitment to follow Jesus should also commit them to a pursuit of nonviolence.
Perhaps you disagree. If I’ve answered the question accurately, most people would disagree with me. And yet if I believe it’s an important truth, I should have the courage to share it and possibly help others see something different.
I haven’t always had this opinion, which I suspect is true of most answers we would give to this question. We used to agree with others on something, and then we started seeing it differently. It’s what we do next that shapes us (and others) the most.
Can you think of your own answer to the question?
More importantly, do you have the courage to share it with others?What important truth do very few people agree with you on? @peterthiel @bgmasters Click To Tweet
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