The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

If You Look For The Same Answers, You’re Going To Get The Same People …
September 7, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Agency Culture, Creativity, Culture, Emotion, Empathy, Insight, Meetings

For reasons I’m not entirely sure, I am on some planner group on Facebook.

To be honest, I tend to ignore it because the last thing I want to do is cultivate even more of a planner bubble than there already is.

However a few weeks ago, I read something that I couldn’t ignore. It was this:

Anyone have any good interview questions (thought-experiments, creative challenges, brain teasers) that have helped you identify good intern/junior planner candidates?

To be honest, I was kind of alarmed by it.

I was even more freaked out by the responses some people gave.

Of course, everyone is entitled to their own approach – but this person is looking for an intern or, at best, a junior planner – so using some kids quiz to evaluate potential seems a bit harsh when I believe the most important criteria you should be looking for is character and attitude.

For that reason, I responded with this:

Don’t ask questions about planning. Ask them about what their chip on their shoulder is. How long they’ve had their best friend. What have they committed to despite moments of hating it. Don’t ask about planner things, then you just get a planner.

To be honest, I ask these questions to everyone – regardless of their position or seniority – because I value honesty, openness and empathy far more than I do someone being able to solve the planning equivalent of some sudoku puzzle. Besides, if someone is sitting in front of me, they must have done enough to intrigue me or they wouldn’t be there … so at the face-to-face stage, it’s far more about who they are than what they’ve done.

Andy was the one who taught me the ‘how long have you known your best friend’.

At first I thought it was a bit bizarre but then I realised it revealed all manner of things, from loyalty, commitment, understanding and an ability to work through issues … and yet when I tell some people I do this, they look at me as if I’m weird.


Why is it weird to want to find someone who will contribute to the team, the culture and the possibilities of the future rather than someone who will just do their job and shut the hell up.

I appreciate everyone is different, but being smart doesn’t mean you’re always bright.


34 Comments so far
Leave a comment

more shit ive given you without getting a fucking thing in return. im your fairy fucking godmother campbell and you are my thieving bastard parasite.

Comment by andy@cynic

You know your comment sounds like those guys who deliver tea during the editing of a commercial and then, when it goes on to win something at Cannes, claims he was part of the team behind it. Just saying.

Comment by Rob

and that shit didnt stop you hiring that fucked up twat sb did it. youll fucking blame george as usual but it was you. all fucking you.

Comment by andy@cynic

Definitely Robert’s doing.

Comment by George

The worst. At least he was gone within a month, but it was a bad month.

Comment by DH

Here we go again …

George found him. I interviewed him. We all sacked him.

Comment by Rob

But who hired him?

Comment by John

I say George did …

Comment by Rob

You would Robert.

Comment by George

guessing bazza wont be commenting on this shit because hes deep in the apple bunker trying to write tim cooks speech to make it look the iphone 7 is a giant leap forward when its just a fucking iphone 4 with a longer lasting fucking battery.

Comment by andy@cynic

“How do I make a 0.0001% thinner iPhone sound like a time machine?”

Comment by DH

And earbuds that everyone will lose.

Comment by John

Earbuds that will only work with the phone. Allegedly.

Comment by Rob

More than just excellent questions, they catch candidates off guard because they touch on subjects rarely discussed in interviews. As you state, they reveal character not just ability. I hope if I was interviewed by you my answers would meet your approval, but I am not so sure they would.

Comment by George

They wouldn’t. I’m still trying to work out how I did.

Comment by DH

Now that’s a podcast I’d listen to.

Comment by John

Well, I might download it.

Comment by John

Trust me Rob, you might think your interview technique is more relaxed but it is the most intense I’ve ever had. It is much worse than asking people to answer some puzzles or do a brain teaser. Your interview approach is one giant brain teaser because you never know whether you like the answer you’re hearing or not.

Comment by Pete

the stupid fuck really thinks hes being mr nice when hes really mr fucking gestapo. planners. thick fucks.

Comment by andy@cynic

OK, I’ll start asking questions about ‘what you hope to do in 5 years time’ etc etc.

Comment by Rob

Forget about this interview.

Comment by John

1) Having to deal with idiots.
2) I don’t have any friends.
3) Reading this blog.

When can I quit?

Comment by John

what the fuck are you quitting?

Comment by andy@cynic

I meant when can I start. But obviously my subconscious was telling me otherwise.

Comment by John

So you’re saying you’re a managing director.

Comment by DH

Sadly my bank account says that I’m not.

Comment by John

I wonder if those 3 points are connected … maybe from the bottom, up.

Comment by Rob

Correlation does not prove causation.

Comment by John

I said I wondered if they were connected, not that they were.

Comment by Rob

I think I speak for many clients when I say how relieved I am that you never used those questions on me. Though many here remember you for asking questions that had not been asked of them before. It was refreshing if slightly nerve wrecking.

Comment by Lee Hill

That’s almost the best compliment I’ve ever had.

Comment by Rob


Comment by George


Comment by Billy Whizz

I read that post and agreed with your comments. I once got asked ‘who I would most like to have breakfast with, and why.’ I also got asked to describe a downward descending staircase without using any words associated with it…

I also got asked to ‘tell the dirtiest joke I know’. But I haven’t counted that:

a- Because it was a design agency
b – Because Andy would probably have shared that one with you too 😀

Comment by Rob (other one)

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