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ThanksGiving Edition: 49 Life Questions You Can Ask Candidates or Relatives

In recruiting you are always making decisions about someone: is there current work a good place; is the school they graduated from reputable; do they have skills; do they present themselves favorable; will they do a good job if you hire them... We don't normally spell it out, but each decision is a shot at understanding ourselves in some area of our life's existence or within our network or company. By exercising these decisions we are actually telling the world around us something about us, not the candidates. We are telling people what makes us happy. From different directions, all our actions and decisions are tapping into the same central question: what will make me happy with this candidate?

If interviewers do not understand themselves well, then why should you think they can make good hiring decisions. I need to know myself before I can know who to hire.

As a recruiter, I want to find people who do good activities and know how to turn their good activities into good business.

Below are some questions that every person who makes decisions on talent should understand about themselves. The questions below are not found in your everyday HR or Talent Acquisition team's hiring manual. That's because they are not for the everyday recruiter/hiring manager.

I want to know your views on money, travel, technology, relationships, food, work, clothes and home. These all boil down to consumption decisions and are telling about your views of the world and what it takes to make you happy. I want to know these about you and also the people you are hiring.

Recruiting is art that can't be laid out on a PowerPoint chart. It is odd that we hire someone for their Powerpoint or Excel skills but we spend more time at work with those hires trying to make them happy.

Credit The Book Of Life for the questions. The author did not write them for selecting talent but I believe there are many similarities...

If I can gain more self-knowledge, I can learn more how to be happier in life and with work. We can stop talking about annual raises and financial incentives to motivate people. Instead we can talk about teaching people what can make them happy in life and work. Say goodbye to your engagement surveys and ping pong tables. Even free coffee, soda, ice cream and beer. They do not make people happy.

Yes, long post but I suspect you will have time to read this over your food hangovers ask your crazy cousins and friends about them. I also gave a few of my answers to these questions. Use this is a guide to see how well you know yourself.

You and Money:

Q1: Do you get anxious at any point in your financial life? Elaborate...

Ben's answer: I have a home and married with three children. Enjoy my home, but not attached to it. Could make it work if I had to sell my home because of finances. I avoid boats and luxury cars. My financial issues stem around eating out too much and being a sucker for giving friends/family money I do not have. Yeah, one time I bought a friend a BMW...

Q2: Who in your past had the best relationship to money in your eyes? Describe their attitudes.

Ben's answer: Two people - my Father and my Uncle Dave (Father's brother). Both were savers and only bought what they needed. My Dad was not into luxurious cars or things. Just worked, spent time with family and played tennis. My Uncle Dave taught me to think "do I want this thing or need this thing"? before buying something. That has stuck in my head. I try to buy things I need, not want. 

Q3: How much money do you need? What do you need it for? Be as precise as possible.

Q4: Do you think some people have more money than they need? Explain your answer.

Q5: What have been your worst financial decisions? What was the mistake? Why did you make them? What lessons should you draw? Have you been able to fully absorb the lesson? If not, what is the difficulty?

Q6: To what extent do you link your economic status to the idea of a successful of life (to what extent do you link money and happiness)?

You and Travel: 

Q7: In fantasy, what would be your ideal holiday? Elaborate as much as possible. What is it about this that appeals so much to you?

Ben's answer: A holiday with no propaganda, commercials or material items. A holiday where people are free to travel on train, bike or foot and can trust anyone and any place because everyone has intentions to do good for society. People can be themselves. This appeals to me because most holidays get stuck in the mud of buying gifts, how to make so and so happy and how to we have a party without hurting people. 

Q8: What has in fact been your best travel experience? Go into detail. What was it about this that went so well? Why doesn't it happen more often? If you could bottle an insight here, what would it be? How seriously do you take this insight?

Q9: What would your ideal traveling companion be like?

Ben's answer: Someone who gets up early and can power nap in the afternoon. I like to explore, meet new people and get dangerous. 

Q10: Why do you travel? When travel is voluntary, what motivates you? To what degree are these motives fulfilled?

You and Technology:

Q11: Does anything stress you or annoy you around technology? Go into detail...

Q12: Do you ever feel you should have a digital detox? What does that phrase suggest to you?

Q13: Do you feel you waste time online? If so, describe a typical way this happens.

Ben's answer: Yes...too much time on Facebook makes me feel lazy. 

Q14: Imagine your ideal relationship to technology. Describe it. What stops this from happening in your life?

Q15: What machine would properly help you to live the way you'd like? Do you have it?

Your Relationships:

Q16: What was your parents' relationship like? To what extent has that influenced your ideas about what can go well or badly around consumption? To what degree have you learned good lessons from that history?

Q17: In what ways might you be a difficult person to live with?

Ben's answer: I like to live for the moment with no concrete plans for each day. I feel like it ties me down to make concrete plans. This drives my wife nuts and others when they want to make plans and I am non-committed. It's because I feel like each day has some type of experience worth living and I want to be open to all experiences and not controlling how the day will turn out. In short, I try not to get too controlling in life's experiences. Life will happen whether I try to control it or not. 

Q18: How open are you to being educated/changed by another person?

Q19: Do you have a strict template of your ideal partner? How is that going? Why do you have this particular template?

Q20: In secret, how loveable do you consider yourself to be?

Q21: In what way could you be a better partner? Realistically, why don't you change?

Q22: What degree of imperfection can you tolerate? Go into detail around how you have actually accomplished this?

You and Food:

Q23: Who in your childhood had the strongest influence of what you ate? Describe their influence at the time.

Ben's answer: Mother did not allow us to drink soda. I still rarely drink soda. Father and I started drinking coffee while I was in college. It's something I do with him to spend time with him. Reminds me of my Grandfather too. When I was 17 I experienced a car accident and to rehab my body. I learned the importance of a good diet from random people in rehab centers and gyms. 

Q24: What kinds of food do you especially like? Describe your enjoyment. What is it about them that pleases you?

Q25: Are you happy with your diet? Say more about this...

Q26: How do you eat when no-one is around? Be very honest...

Q27: What's your ideal restaurant/cafe like?

Q28: Do you feel you spend too much/too little on food? Why do you do this?

Q29: If you could change one thing about what you eat, what would it be? Realistically, why don't you do this?

Q30: Describe your ideal meal with friends?

Q31: Does anyone (or anything) irritate you about food? Who (or what) and why?

Q32: What do you feel about your weight?

You and Work:

Q33: When you were a child, what did you imagine work would be like? Where did these ideas come from? In retrospect, how do you feel about those early ideas?

Q34: Have you had a job that you particularly disliked? What specifically was wrong with it?

Ben's answer: I worked on a manufacturing line making key chains while in college. It was too predictable and boring with no purpose. 

Q35: What is your ideal job? Realistically, what are the obstacles?

You and Clothes:

Q36: Have you ever felt intimidated by any seller in a clothes shop? What do you fear might happen? What is the origin of this anxiety?

Q37: If no one in the world could know, how would you ideally like to dress?

Q38: What messages do you think your clothes send to other people? Is this the message you wish to send?

Q39: If you had to wear the same clothes everyday, what would your uniform be?

Q40: Do you spend too much or too little on clothes?

Q41: To what extent do you judge other people by their clothes?

Ben's answer: Probably critical of others clothes at times. I get skeptical of anyone trying too hard to dress nice. Almost like they are compensating for a weakness I am not seeing or perhaps they are vain. That ole Don Quixote saying "a monkey in a suit is still a monkey" resonates with me. 

Q42: In your childhood, were there any stand-out experiences around clothes?

Q43: How did you feel about the way your parents (or other people in your childhood) dressed? What's your view of them now?

Q44: What goes well (or badly) around fashion? Refer as much as possible to people you know well.

You and Home:

Q45: What was your home like when you were growing up?

Ben's answer: Fun, wild and relaxing. Overall a happy experience. We had a coal furnace and I had to put coal in the furnace every night. Taught me to work for basic needs like heat. I hated putting coal in the furnace at night but it taught me a good lesson later. You must not take basic needs for granted. 

Q46: What's your ideal of home?

Q47: What are your secret hopes and fears how others might judge your home? Where have these hopes and fears come from?

Q48: Do you ever feel dismayed or excited by the places your friends live? Go into detail.

Q49: How do you feel about being tidy? When you hear the word 'tidy' what do you think of? Why does that association come to mind?