Has anyone ever told you to take a hike when you are five minutes into a job interview? Jacqueline Novogratz has been known to do that to candidates. She’s the CEO of the Acumen Fund and was interviewed in the “Corner Office” in Sept. 30 issue of The New York Times.
By the time an applicant meets Novogratz, others have vetted the candidate for the necessary skill sets. She is looking for more. Because her description of what she looks for at that point is so much better than my poor power to summarize it, I quote:
“I ask people to tell me their story. How did you grow up? Who are the influences in your life? Tell me about a time when you really failed. And if you give me a really silly answer to that question, I’m going to know it and I’m going to ask you to leave. I have been known for the five-minute interview, which the team does not like.”
I could not agree with her more. Each person has just so much time and so much life force, and so many people waste it.
She goes on to describe what triggers the guillotine to the interview:
“If somebody says, ‘My biggest weakness is that I work too hard’ or ‘I'm a perfectionist.’ I want to know the essence of who you are, what makes you tick, why you are coming here. . . . When did you feel like you really let yourself down, and what did you learn from it? What are you most proud of, and what are you doing when you feel most beautiful? People get a little confused when I ask that question, and they'll ask, ‘What do you mean by beautiful?’ ”
Sounds like she's interviewing a bunch of lawyers, doesn’t it? She elaborates:
“What are you doing when you are shining, when you're in the zone, when you're on fire? What are you doing when you feel that way? I think you learn a lot about someone when they answer that question.”
The interview also illuminates the value employers are now placing on self-reflection. The examined life is, in fact, a life worth living.