A job interview should not be about the candidate’s personal life.

From a Business Insider post about an interviewing technique at LinkedIn:

When LinkedIn's head of recruiting, Brendan Browne, interviews someone for a job, one of the first things he does is hand over an erasable marker and direct the candidate to a whiteboard on the wall.

Browne has been at the helm of the professional social network's recruitment team since 2010, and in building his own team he's found an unusual exercise to be the best indicator of whether he should hire a candidate, he explained to Business Insider.

He'll ask the candidate, regardless of position, "What are you most passionate about? Using the whiteboard, explain to me the process of how it works."

As a manager/interviewer, I think this technique is a great idea. It gets the candidate about her/his interests outside of work and it shows me show s/he works in a presentation setting without the trappings of artificial interview questions. Beyond that, by tossing off the usual framework of an interview (“Tell me about a situation where…”), I potentially get to see a side of the candidate that might otherwise not emerge until after the hiring decision is made.

That said, from the perspective of the interviewee, I find myself uncomfortable with this scenario.

We have developed this notion that we are not just hiring a person to work some number of hours per day, but rather the whole person. In a sense, that is true, but at the same time, our jobs should not be our whole life. While knowledge of what I do with my life outside the boundaries of my job may be interesting or useful to an employer, the decision as to how much of that I share with said employer should be mine.

We can pretend that the candidate can decline to answer the question or participate in the exercise Browne describes, but given the power relationship between the interviewer and the candidate, that seems unlikely. So this leaves us with a situation where the interviewer is forcing the candidate to explain in details the workings of the thing about which s/he is most passionate, and doing so solely as an evaluation exercise for the interviewer’s benefit.

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