“Why are you here?” That’s my first interview question. It’s surprising how many people get rattled out of the gate by that question. Yet if you bump into an American in Paris tomorrow and ask the same question, you get a few crisp answers:
I’m here on vacation to see the sights.
I’m here for a business meeting.
I’m here with my husband for a romantic weekend trip.
Those people know exactly what they need to do to be consistent with the “why” statement. Further, when they tell you that, it’s easy for you to help them. See the Eiffel Tower (but go after 2 pm); Use this line on the Metro to get to that office; Eat at this brasserie if you walk along the Seine.
So why is it so hard for interviewees? And do you want to hire somebody who doesn’t have a clear “why?”
By the way, what triggered this was Chandoo (Purna Duggirala) showing up in my RSS feed today. His “why” is simple: “to make you awesome in Excel and charting”. And he is absolutely outstanding in that regard. Check him out for awesome ways to improve your Excel skills!