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Sunday, February 12, 2012

I'm THAT Guy!

The Pediatrics/Binocular Vision Service at the Illinois Eye Institute/Illinois College of Optometry recently interviewed candidates for next year's residency positions. We have 2 positions available and 16 applicants, so you know the competition is tough.

As you might expect, most of the questions asked of the candidate are the usual ones. Why do you want to do a pediatric/binocular vision residency? What have your experiences been working with children? But over the years, I've been designated (self-designated?) as the guy who gets to ask the "off the wall questions". The answers to these questions are not as important as the way the candidate goes about developing the answer. Are they reflective? Anxious? Quick to answer? Does the answer make sense? Does the answer have to make sense?

I usually think of a question after talking to the candidate for several minutes. I may use where they were from as a part of the question....or just reach into outer space as needed.

Here's and example of some of the questions asked:

If you could be a body part, what part would you be and why?

If you could be an ancient god or super hero who would you be and why?

If you could be a kid's toy, what would you be and why?

If you could be one of the digits on your hand, which one would you be and why?

Let's say you were the first optometrist on a mission to Mars. You would provide eye care for your team, but also eye care for any Martians you met. Unfortunately, Martians have 3 eyes! How would you do an eye examination?

As a Canadian you know that the Canada is famous for many things including deer, moose and Elk. If you could be one of these 3 creatures, which would you pick and why?

As a Wisconsinite, you know that Wisconsin is famous for cheese. Of all the cheeses available which would you be and why? Would you hide beyond the cheddar curtain?

One of the candidates told me that as a kid's toy, she wanted to be an orange crayon.... I don't recall why, but it made perfect sense for this individual's character.

The Martian eye examination question elicited a groan from my colleagues....and a moment of panic from the candidate...but she survived.

Remember that when you  interview for a position not only does the answer to the question matter....but your approach to answering the question matters as well.

One of the thing I noticed about most of the candidates, is that they answered the expected questions in a similar fashion....most answers did not make the candidates stand out from any other candidate...  But when they answered my questions, you could see the wheels a turnin', the creative juices flowin' and just enough fear/panic/stage fright present to put an edge right where it needed to be.

When you interview...always remember what makes you different. If it's true that you are an orange crayon on the inside....and...part Martian to boot....make sure those who are doing the interviewing....know how special you are. DM

1 comment:

  1. In 1983 I was being interviewed for a computer repair position that would involve carting around loads of components in Manhattan.

    Desktop computers were *just* being introduced, so a lot of the parts were still pretty big and expensive. But one doesn't use cars in Manhattan. So "carting around" was precisely what one did.

    The question wasn't *that* off-the-wall. It did relate to the job. Sort of.
    But none of my training as an interviewee had prepared me for it.

    What the interviewer asked me was: "You may be on-call for night calls. What would you do if you were in a dicey neighborhood with a cart-full of equipment and someone attacked you?"

    I answered without hesitation, "Drop everything and run!"

    I got the job.