“If your life is a book, tell me about the chapters of that book.”
For Lexi Reese, COO of human-resources software company Gusto, that’s a go-to prompt in job interviews.
To be sure, Reese, who previously held management positions at Google and American Express, wants to hear what you’ve accomplished over the course of your life and career. But more importantly, she said, she’s interested in why you made the choices you did.
“You can suss out things like ego,” she said. “Is your ego focused on, ‘I’m proud of doing the right thing in a way that’s going to impact lots of people?’ Or is your ego placed on, ‘I did this and I did that and I am so great?'”
Specifically, she’s listening for a ton of “I” statements, which doesn’t suggest a desire to serve others.
Reese added that she generally hires a person more for their values than for role-related fit. (Gusto’s website indicates that their company values include “go the extra mile” and “do what’s right.”)
Reese’s interviewing technique sounds similar to online bra company ThirdLove’s. As Ra’el Cohen, ThirdLove’s chief creative officer, previously told Business Insider, her team likes to ask job candidates, “”What was the last mistake that you and your last team made, and what did you learn from it?”
In ThirdLove’s case, they’re actively looking for the candidate to use the word “I” instead of “we,” because it suggests that the person takes ownership and responsibility for mistakes instead of blaming them on others.
As for Reese, she’s seeking job candidates who have spent a lot of time thinking about their own values. “We try to find people who are really deliberate about where they want to build their careers,” she said, “and why they’re trying to build them here.”
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