There’s No Perfect Job Candidate, But There Are Foolish Ones!

Ideal CandidatePeople applying to jobs often go through the string of questions: Did I go to the right school? Did I pick the right major? Did I do the right internships? Does my resume have enough details of what I do? Is my resume too long/too short? Does my cover letter summarize how I can do the job?

In my opinion, there isn’t a right answer to these questions because there is no such thing as the perfect applicant.

Many companies or organizations go down a checklist for candidates:

Bachelors degree – check

Proficiency in office applications – check

3-5 years of experience – check

1-2 years of experience in relevant field – double check

I am happy to say that at The Fool, our checklist is bit different.  Here at The Fool, people come to us from all walks of life.  We have former bartenders and biology teachers turned investors and MMA fighter (Mixed Martial Arts) turned techie. We’ve hired Fools ranging from baristas to Tigger and Goofy from Disneyworld to NASA rocket scientists.  We do things different in all of our business aspects, so why not recruiting?

When you apply to our positions you see that we want cover letters that don’t bore us and we ask questions that aren’t the norm.  Other recruiters might ask how this helps us find the right candidates.  To us, the ideal, not perfect, candidate embodies what we call Foolishness (with a capital F) and these questions let Foolishness shine through!

So how do you prepare to be an ideal candidate?

Some might say that filling out an application or preparing for an interview was a lot easier ten years ago.  The hardest, and most asked, question to prepare for used to be, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”  Today, this question doesn’t carry the relevance it once did.  We’ve become a culture of change; change in what we want to learn and when we want to learn it all the time. Our passions and dreams change and therefore so do our career paths.

The other day I received an email about the 25 strangest interview questions.  The subject said it all…strangest.  There were questions on the more bizarre side of how many cows there are in Canada or estimate how many windows there are in New York to tell us your favorite song and perform it for us.  I often think that the people asking these types of questions are abusing the system. I can tell you I’m an extrovert and I would not get up and perform a song in an interview!

In our applications and interviews, we aren’t trying to embarrass you or make you feel uncomfortable but rather we want to know what makes you…well YOU!  Letting us in, even just a little bit, to see different sides of you is all we want.  How will we know if we want to sit next to you everyday? Or if you might participate in our office banter?

I recently had a friend tell me that she would hate to sit through one of my interviews because she wouldn’t like being put on the spot with some of my questions.  I thought a lot about her comment when I went into my next interview and realized that it really isn’t about what the answer is but more the insight it gives me into the person.  Answering with one word doesn’t provide much to me but answering with something that starts a conversation and shows your interest in something…that is what we want to see!

So next time you’re applying to a job, writing a cover letter, or preparing for interview, think about what makes you you and let that come out!

4 thoughts on “There’s No Perfect Job Candidate, But There Are Foolish Ones!

  1. I will tell you what consists of an embarrassing interview, because I recently had one of those. A somewhat established social media website invited me in and I was greeted by two interns. It was obvious they hadn’t read my resume at all and they even discussed between each other, in front of me, what kind of questions they should be asking me and did not really have a clue. After I spoke to them for a few minutes, they decided to get the head of the company and see if she had time to speak to me.

    The head of the company was very rude and it was obvious she as well had not bothered to look at my resume. When I asked her how her day was going she simply replied “Oh, it’s a Monday.” All her questions were yes or no, and had she read my resume, she would have had all the answers she was looking for. After asking me to define marketing, she asked me “Are you a good writer?” I was polite about it, but I told her that I had sent along writing samples and then gave her a copy of my business card so she could look at them later. She glared at the interns, then began berating them in front of me and pressing them about whether I was a good writer. After that, she told me I needed to go home and write her an e-mail that summed up my brand voice in two sentences. She was very brand/marketing focused and questioned me about if I used their site; I have. I explained to her what I thought of the site and how to use the tools. She kept saying but how else can you use the tools? The site is more than that. Then I said to her, well, as I understand your site, that is how to use it – are there other intricacies I am missing? After that, she sharply retorted, “I am asking you to judge your knowledge of our website. You will have to write hundreds of e-mails to people who have no clue how to use our site and you will be responsible for answering those questions.” When I pressed her about if she could explain a little more about the company, she ignored me and urged me to get the email to her as soon as possible, then showed me to the door.

    Though I went ahead and emailed her when I got home, I came out of the interview feeling pretty upset and, frankly, gross. It was quite clear that this company really had no interest in hiring me and they did not pretend they wanted to get to know me at all. She even went so far as to say that she had invited other people in to interview, but she knew she wouldn’t hire them because their commute was too far. It just left me wondering why this woman insisted on wasting candidates’ time. I know companies are spoiled for choice in this economy and want to hire the right person, but it should be a two-way street.

    Interviewing with a few spontaneous questions is a fun change of pace from the “tell me about yourself” style and gives both people, the interviewer and the interviewee, the chance to relax, have fun and probably gives deeper insight anyways. As long as it’s not rude, I don’t see how it could be too bad!

    1. Wow! That’s a shame you had to go through that. If the interview was like that bad, I doubt it’d be worth it to work there regularly because you’d have to work with those type of people all the time. I hope you found a better place that you enjoy working at!

  2. I agree that it is important to find good team players through the interview process, but I think you are taking the idea too far. If all you’re looking for are people you “enjoy sitting next to”, than no one will be there to tell you when your ideas suck.

  3. I love this article! =) I can definitely relate to passions and dreams changing, and career paths. I used to be on a solid physical chemistry career path & even got accepted into some good PhD programs…but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend my future doing academic research on theoretical pchem or complicated mathematical laser experiments. So I didn’t accept any of my offers, took a year off to explore the chemical industry jobs and ended up switching to a Materials Science PhD program because I thought I might enjoy it. But by the time I started the PhD program, I already found my passion: positive psychology & using it to make the world a happier place. The joy I get from keeping up to date with it, applying the results from the research, and thinking of ways I can incorporate it into others’ lives has been more fulfilling than anything else I’ve done.
    For now, I’m still stuck in the chemistry/materials science industry to pay bills (unfortunately it’s not as easy to get & keep a job here as I had hoped), but I’m making some progress toward shifting to my passion because I do magic part-time, which gives me some opportunities to do what I love. I’m also trying to go back to school, using any money I make to pay for a masters program in pscyhology. It reminds me of some lyrics from one of my favorite songs:

    “And nobody has to stay where they put
    This world is yours for you to explore
    There’s nothing but miracles beyond your door”

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