Answering 25 tough interview questions, part 5

And so we come to the fifth and final part of this resoundingly unpopular series on interview questions (from here). Oh well: I’ve enjoyed writing it, even if no-one’s enjoyed reading it! [part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4]. And that’s the point of a blog, really, isn’t it?


Off we go, for the last time …

21. “Who is your biggest hero?” – Asked at De La Rue.

Oh, that’s very tough. I don’t know if I can pick just one, unless I am allowed to cheat and say Jesus. The thing is, different people excel in the different areas that I’m involved with. Phil Keaggy is my hero as a guitarist, Paul Simon as a songwriter, and Steve Sykes, Mike Selway and Adam Dickmeiss as programmers. I admire Matt Wedel as a working scientist who’s kept the play in work, Michael Eisen as an open-access advocate, Andy Murray for the sheer intensity and stamina of the work he does (not to mention the skill)[*], and C. S. Lewis for his clarity of thought. But I don’t think I could call any of those people my “hero”.

[*] I wrote this before the Wimbledon final.

22. “Give me an example of your extreme levels of tenacity.” – Asked at ALDI.

Well, I did a Ph.D in my spare time in five years. That involved a lot of late nights, and had to be fitted into the gaps around a pretty demanding (though very understanding) day-job, and the day-to-day demands of a wife, three young sons and my various church commitments.

And then there’s my continuing to publish this series of blog posts even though no-one but me cares about them :-)

(It seems strange to me that Aldi, a pile-’em-high, sell-’em-cheap budget supermarket, would ask this. Are “extreme levels of tenacity” really a prerequisite for stocking their shelves or operating their tills?)

23. “In a fight between a lion and a tiger, who would win & why?” – Asked at Capco.

For some reason, this question keeps coming up in the Guardian‘s series of “Small Talk” interviews with sportspeople. Nearly everyone answers the lion, usually explaining “because it’s the king of the jungle”. But my money’s on the tiger because it’s a solitary hunter, and used to fighting on its own, whereas the lion lives in a pack and probably won’t fancy it without its mates around to help out.

Obligatory caveat: the natural ranges of lions and tigers no longer overlap, so this is not something that could ever happen in the wild.

24. “How would your delegates describe you?” – Asked at Harvey Nichols.

My delegates?

I can’t make sense of that question. In what context would I have delegates? I suppose if I sent someone to a conference in my place, to represent me, that person would be my delegate. But since I’ve never done that, I think there is no meaningful answer to that question.

25. “Do you think the quality of our menswear products are as high as our home department products?” – Asked at Marks & Spencer.

Oh dear, what a disappointing pair of question to end on. I have no opinion at all on the quality of M&S menswear or home-department products.

Well, that certainly ended with a fizzle.

11 responses to “Answering 25 tough interview questions, part 5

  1. Re: #22, that is an impressive example of tenacity.

  2. I believe “delegate” as a noun is contemporary business-speak for those that used to be known as subordinates. If I’m right, I suspect it comes from the same strand of thinking that replaced employee in the lexicon with associate. A manager must assign work, but an associate takes on delegated responsibility.

    Consider yourself somewhat blessed to not be able to think of that off the top of your head. :)

  3. So “delegate” means “subordinate” now? I would never have guessed that! Happily, it makes the question very easy for me to answer. I have no subordinates, so I don’t have to worry about how they’d describe me. (A better question would have been how my colleagues describe me.)

    Thanks, NickS!

  4. paul eckersley

    Re#25. I often buy suits from M&S has they are made of good quality cloth whereas there home furnishings are a bit like Habitats from the 80’s. So the answer to me is quite clear menswear better than home furnishings.

  5. Oh, well I’ve learned something new! (Hi, Paul, BTW.)

  6. #23: The tiger usually wins, probably because tigers are bigger than lions.

  7. For what it’s worth, I’ve enjoyed reading this series.

  8. Thanks, Jeshua!

    And thanks, Vertebrat, for the link. I should have guessed Wikipedia had the answer. Glad to have been vindicated on this one!

  9. #23 – Lions and tigers don’t occupy the same ecological niche, and absent human interference, generally have no reason to fight.

    Lions and hyenas, now, is a much more likely scenario.

  10. Just came across these posts randomly and just wanted to say I love them! Some of your answers and exceptionally well thought out and very interesting :)

  11. Thanks, LL, appreciated!

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