In the article below, asking interview questions from CEO’s that vary from the norm, Michelle Peluso, CEO of Gilt Groupe is reported as asking:
“OK, I’ve interviewed an eclectic crowd about you: the guy who delivers your food, the last people you worked with, the person who can’t stand you the most, your best friend from high school, your mother’s neighbor, your kindergarten teacher, your high school math teacher who loved you, and your last boss.” Then she asks: “If I were to say to them, ‘Give me three adjectives that best describe you,’ what would I hear?”
Peluso says if the candidate gives her three glowing adjectives, she’ll remind them that the hypothetical group includes a few people who aren’t particularly fond of them.
Interesting, yes? But as I think about her list I am increasingly disturbed. Kindergarten teacher? I only recall her being mean, or frustrated with me, yelling at me after I got pushed under the merry-go-round while it was spinning madly away. I was hurt and she had to clean up and bandage my knee. I just remember being hurt and puzzled when she blamed me for the incident. I remember shame. This is one of my very few memories from kindergarten. What did that teacher think of me? I don’t know. In that moment, she thought I was stupid, or that I didn’t know my place, or something. I don’t know what she thought of me honestly, but if my memory is an indication, she found me frustrating.
It’s strange how disturbing I find it to reflect on that memory after all these years. I feel that shame flooding through me, even though adult me knows that I did nothing wrong. There is nothing wrong or even odd about a child wanting to ride the merry-go-round, even if the kids on it are older.
She also asks about the person who can’t stand you the most. Whew! Who is that? I don’t generally think that people can’t stand me. I don’t think my in-laws were overly fond of me, but I don’t think it rose to the level of contempt. The only person I can think of is someone I had to report for failure to report to work, or the person I had to fire. They would say that I was difficult or worse, but I don’t know what a single adjective would be for that.
Thinking about this is rather distressing. I am reviewing my life to see if there is someone who can’t stand me. Is there someone out there who I have hurt to the point of contempt or fury? Is there someone out there who actively hates me? Perhaps, but I don’t know. I’m not certain I know how my actions or words are seen from the other side of a situation or a conversation. I have to wonder what my kindergarten teacher was like as a whole, as I can only remember the one incident. Was she generally kind, but frustrated? Was her intent to teach me some lesson that would keep me from getting hurt? I don’t know. I still don’t think I did anything wrong. And maybe she didn’t either. Maybe I am remembering her completely out of context. I have to remember that.
The guy who delivers my food would say he’s glad I came to the door because I’m a decent tipper.My best friend from high school would say…fun? Loyal? My mother’s neighbor…I don’t know any of her neighbors in the apartment they moved into recently. I live halfway across the country, so they would scratch their heads and say, “Absent?” The high school math teacher who loved me, would call me smart, hard-working, dedicated. My last boss was a woman I never met, as I was working for a temp agency. She would likely praise me for being someone that made her money. The last people I worked with would say I was nice, quiet, hard-working. So what would that tell a person? Would it give anyone a full picture? How do you decide whether to hire a person based on those questions? It’s an interesting question. But thinking through the question has triggered a lot of memories and emotions that are both pleasant and unpleasant.
How would you answer that question?