Ignore The Questions

from Seth’s Blog

It doesn’t matter what the questions are, really. They’re a prompt.

When you’re in a job interview, a podcast interview, a sales call, a meeting… if we take the approach that this is a test and there’s a right answer, we’re not actually engaging and moving things forward.

Instead, consider using the question as a chance to see more deeply in what this interaction is for, where are you hoping to go? Focus on status roles, the creation and resolution of tension, and most of all, changing minds.

If you’re not working to change minds, why are you here again?

More here.

,

13 Responses to Ignore The Questions

  1. Michelle Vekshteyn September 7, 2018 at 11:35 am #

    Although a short article, it has a powerful message being relayed. Basically, it is telling readers that the questions in an interview, meeting, etc. are all just a prompt. This is very true since interviewers ask the people that they are interviewing basically the same questions, almost like they are reading a script. The same thing goes for meetings or sales calls, although the topics of discussion are different, similar questions need to be brought up to get a certain outcome. A lot of people think that there is only one correct answer for these questions, and that is where they fall short. I believe that these questions are testing the emotional intelligence of a person rather than accuracy of an answer. An interviewer would rather hear a unique answer rather than hear the same cliché answer every single time. The point is to stand out and engage in conversation rather than melt into the crowd of people that said the same “right” answer. Like it says in the Seth’s Blog article, “if we take the approach that this is a test and there’s a right answer, we’re not actually engaging and moving things forward”. I completely agree, how can you move a conversation forward if you sound like a broken record? I feel like this applies to our class as well, since many questions are asked. Although there are right answers, we as students need to be able to speak into more detail than simply regurgitating a definition. Doing so makes for a more interesting class discussion, and the same goes for an interview or meeting.
    The author then suggests to, “consider using the question as a chance to see more deeply in what this interaction is for, where are you hoping to go… if you’re not working to change minds, why are you here again?”. Your focus during an interview or meeting should be “how do I change this person’s mind to like me and hire me/to agree with me on this business deal?” Like I said before, repeating the same types of answers that most people would respond will not benefit you in any way, nor make you stand out. People need to be less focused on the “right” answers but rather showing their own insight and uniqueness. You have to work to change minds like he states, which will only be done by ignoring the questions. Although I already knew that showing more of my own personality rather than taking other people’s ideas would benefit me more, this article justified it. I will take the message from this article and use it in my own life.

  2. Wilnir Louis September 7, 2018 at 1:47 pm #

    I like this blog post because of how it is short and concise, but it also has a call to action in it too. It states that every interaction and every question that you are asked, you need to approach it like you are trying to change someone’s mind. I think that if you live life like you are about to change someone’s life, I think that a lot of things will fall in your favor. It is foolproof because it will help make you a better persuader. It is just like practice, the more you try it, the more you will get good at it. More times than not, you might be in a casual situation where you will need to persuade someone to do something minor. By you working that skill and continuing to practice, it will help you when you need to use it for something bigger, like negotiating a car price or trying to suede a judge to your favor.
    It helps because it could only benefit you in the end if you are, “working to change minds.” If someone is already on your side, that there is not much to do. What is tough is the people that are on the outside of the spectrum. People with uptight biases and generalization. If you work to change people’s minds and work to change their biases, that is what is best. For example, when people try to confront racists. If a racist asks you a question, you should not look to tell them the right answer in their mind, but you should look to tell them something that could change their mindset and possibly let them see the right side of life. If we could do that one person at a time, and continue to understand that we have to live in order to change people’s minds in a positive way, then that is how we could live in a better society. Many people only live to please other people, and that is the reason that the world is the way that it is now. However, if we follow the blog and follow the call for action that the blog is stating, then everything will work out in its favor.

  3. John Skalski September 7, 2018 at 1:59 pm #

    I could not agree more with what this blog has to say about answering questions on a “job interview, a podcast interview, a sales call, a meeting…”. The questions that are asked during these things are always most likely the same from person to person. The people that hold an interview do not want to hear the same answer being said by everyone over and over again. The interviewer wants to be able to feel like they are “engaging and moving things forward”. If this does not happen then the person being interviewed will not stand out from everyone else. I completely agree with all of this because I have personally done interviews before. I am a supervisor at Sesame Place, a kid’s amusement park, so whenever we are looking to promote people I will help out with the interviews. There are 7 questions that get asked and they are exactly word for word the same for everybody that gets an interview. There is no “correct answer” to these questions but usually people will always answer them around the same and there is no uniqueness to it. When I do the interviews I look for people that not only answer the question but also add their own twist to it. I want to see enthusiasm, engagement, and most importantly not see people treating the interview like they have to be there. I want to feel like I am actually holding a conversation with the person and maybe even get some questions back from them to keep things moving forward. Interviews are hard but when you treat them more like a conversation and not a test then everything becomes easier.
    Another aspect of the blog that I wanted to talk about was how it was ended, “If you’re not working to change minds, why are you here again?”. I think that this was a great way to end the post because if one’s goal is to not change minds then why are they even doing what they are doing. Your goal should be to change the way people think about you whenever you are doing something. Never go into a workout, school, job interview, etc. without having the goal of changing people’s minds. If you are able to leave the job interview having changed the interviewer’s mind then you have just done a successful interview. In order to stand out during the interview one should not just make the interview feel like a conversation but also make the interviewer feel like they actually learned something new about you. The interviewer can always read your resume whenever they want, so give new ideas and thoughts that do not go on a resume to really make yourself stand out. By the time the interview is over if the interviewer did not feel like they learned something new about you or that you changed their minds then you will just be considered another person in a pool of millions of people that want that job.

  4. Jaden Tate September 7, 2018 at 5:38 pm #

    In Ignore the questions from Seth’s Blog he speaks about how when people are posed with questions they only tend to answer the question for its face value. This post, though extremely short, I believe had a very powerful message behind it. The message that when posed with a question do not just answer what is being asked but give a more meaningful answer to it. Though I have never been in an interview I feel as though many people just answer the question instead of using this opportunity to show more of themselves. Along with this I feel like the questions asked by the employers do not actually allow for them to get to know the employee. For the employer to actually get to know the employee the employee would have to give a more natural response to the question. Most the time the answers are rehearsed and have been given so much thought to such a short answer. I agree with Seth when he says that “if we take the approach that this is a test” we will not get to engage with the person. I believe to make the interview process better there needs to be more of a conversation that happens. Instead of asking, the questions of “Why did you choose this job” and “What’s your best quality” have a conversation about their daily life. In doing this, though the things said may not always be the truth, you can get a better idea of the person. Also, questions such as “if you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and why?” This would show you what is important to them and their feeling on certain things. In doing this you are getting away from the common questions asked by all other employers and getting to see a different side of the employee. When Seth says, “if you’re not working to change minds, why are you here again” I took it as there are so many meaningless conversations and comments that happen throughout the world around us. However, at the same time people do not realize how words can affect a person. I do disagree with the title of Ignore the question because some people would actually love to get asked the question “how is your day” because to some that may make their day.

    • Paul Lee September 20, 2018 at 2:27 am #

      Jaden, I agree with your point that employees or anyone in this world should not ask the typical questions. It should be that employers should ask questions that allow them to get in depth view of the interviewed person or employee. Seth’s blog about how employers and people in general should ask each other meaningful questions is a very powerful message that can shift a person’s thinking of how would should interact with others. I agree with Jaden strong point that interview questions have multiple common questions that does not give any in sight of who the interviewed person is. There should be questions asked about the type of person he or she is, what the person’s stance on a subject, or their life mission. These are the type of questions that I would like to see employees use more in the interview process. I also have had interview and job experience, I have been asked and answered many typical employer questions. In my opinion, I do not think it is a stategic plan for employer to understand the employees through these trivial questions. These boring, common questions are tailored for business, it is way to see if these employees or the interviewed person can be efficient and can integrate into the employers business perfectly. More than less, these employers want to see how the person in the interview or employee can bring in the most revenue to the company. It would be very different and efficient to see employers and my future job interviews to have in depth questions that inquire to who I am and what I am here to do. Also reading Jaden’s post, one quote that she wrote stuck a cord with me which was, “However, at the same time people do not realize how words can affect a person.” This is a very solid point that she states that I agree and fully support. Words do have the ability to lift a person’s spirit or distinguish it. People from John F. Kennedy to Muhammad Ali have used words to inspire many people to healing people. To be able to use words is a powerful, deadly weapon that can be used to help others, inspire and show care or to use it to hurting someone’s feelings or humiliate them. There is a wonderful quote by Yehuda Berg that follows Jaden’s statement, “Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”

  5. Yash Wagle September 7, 2018 at 6:20 pm #

    Although short, this article provides a message that everyone should apply to their daily life. The biggest message from this article I believe is to not simply do things because they have to be done but doing them with a sense of purpose. This message is actually conveyed right from the start as it states “It doesn’t matter what the questions are, really. They’re a prompt.” Basically this pertains fact that sometimes people just answer the minimum necessary and don’t see the question as prompt to further expand upon. This sentiment is again seen as the blog states “if we take the approach that this is a test and there’s a right answer, we’re not actually engaging and moving things forward.” By simply just answering the question in this one dimensional way of only having one answer no progress is really made. The only way progress and change can be made is when think about questions in other perspectives. In a society is very easy to follow what everybody else is doing, but it is very hard to stray from what everybody else is doing. Yet we often see it to be that it is only when people look at questions and problems in other perspectives that real changes are actually made. In the blog it states “If you’re not working to change minds, why are you here again?” This statement shows that something that we all should strive for communication between each other is the ability to change one and another’s mind hopefully positively. If people in an interview when asked a question came with the same formulated response there is no change, yet if someone give some other additional input from a different perspective that actually helps an employer know that this person could be an asset because they help the company achieve diverse viewpoints. That I why it always important for people to encourage people to think different as the only way to communicate different perspectives is understanding other perspectives. A persons should not just be to exist within the world but also change it for the better.

  6. Tyler Peteraf September 7, 2018 at 6:59 pm #

    I think that general Idea of this article is extremely interesting. So many times when we are posed a question, we automatically start fumbling for an answer that we assume would please the person who is asking the question. What this article is saying is that that could be the wrong approach all together. “Ignore the Questions” from Seth’s Blog is essentially telling us that being asked a question is so much more than simply giving an answer that would suffice. Instead of going through the motions of a typical conversation where you tell the person what they want to hear, we should take the approach of looking deeper into it. As the article states, we should “consider using the question as a chance to see more deeply in what this interaction is for”. The article points out that we should think about why we are having the conversation? Often times people look at questions only from the surface, without looking deeper into it. One a person decides to look at a question differently, it allows for a deeper level of conversation. Especially with societal tension we live in today, I believe this way of thing should definitely be used more often. Too many times questions, are asked today and people have predetermined answers, really not allowing for any progress to be made in the conversation.
    Probably the most memorable part of the article for me was the idea that we should look at a question as an opportunity to “change minds”. If we are not looking to change minds, then what is the point of having the conversation. In my personal experience, I typically answer question with the goal of satisfying the person who is asking the question. During job interviews I’ve taken, I have spent multiple hours focusing on what I thought that particular person would want to hear. I think this article is saying that one consistent thought is not how society should go about conversation. We have to consistently look too challenge ideas and create a new way of thought. If we don’t do this, we would be stuck in cycle of complacency.

  7. Amanda Nitting September 7, 2018 at 7:20 pm #

    Seth’s Blog, “Ignore the Questions” is short and to the point. He clearly states and drives at the message of going above and beyond the status quo and communicate with conviction. With this generation specifically, many interviewers stress the lack of communication skills young adults have coming out of their education whether that means those individuals who attended university or not. As stated in the article, “It doesn’t matter what the questions are, really” (Seth’s Blog). During a job interview, sales call, or other similar types of meetings, it is crucial to understand the reasoning behind the questions that the interviewers are asking. It is not so that they can hear the same general answers that a good amount of the applicants will say but rather find those they have a certain spark.
    From the interviews that I have participated in, I have seen the basic and generic questions that an interviewer will ask such as “why are you applying for this job?” or “tell me a little bit about yourself.” These questions, as Seth says, are so that the applicant can engage in a conversation with the employer so that instead of trying to answer the question correctly, the applicant can brand themselves. Branding is an important term to understand and is something that I have learned to understand more. During my freshman year at Seton Hall University, my University Life professor stressed the significance of being able to create an identity for yourself. Learning how to talk about oneself that does not come across as gloating but rather modest and energetic for the position one is achieving to receive is an important skill to obtain. Regurgitating responses that interviewers know most people will say does not further one’s ability to “change minds.” Although financial stability is a key reason for one to look for a job, hopefully, the person will be looking for something he/she loves so that he/she could create new ideas that will advance the company. For example, this past summer I went on an interview for an internship and thinking back to that time, I can see the points Seth’s Blog was trying to make. My boss was clearly trying to engage a thoughtful conversation with me that would allow me to show her my capabilities. It would also allow her to determine whether I was capable of expanding my boundaries so that I can fit in better with the environment in the office.
    Companies do not want to hire someone that does not go outside the box or attempt at expanding his or her horizons. This article was very informative and made me think in a new perspective for the next time I am preparing for an interview. Instead of looking at it as if I am going to pass or fail, it will be more centered at the idea of how can I bring something new to the table that no other person can. This is a very powerful piece and I really enjoyed the message that was conveyed.

  8. Henry Steck September 7, 2018 at 8:10 pm #

    This is the second post I have read from Seth’s Blog, and I really enjoy the author’s sharp, succinct language. This post is the length of a short poem at just 12 lines, but it contains some interesting advice.

    I have interviewed more times than I care to count (this is not a brag, the process is brutal). I find especially in phone screens, it is easy to envision the interviewer recording our answers diligently. It is as if the interviewer is asking 17 x 17, and we are to reply 289, which the interviewer then records. One digit off, and we don’t get the role. That is the thought process. This is what the blog is referring to in terms of constantly searching for the “right” answer.

    I have found that the structure is way more fluid though. The notes actually being taken are usually very different. They relate to how we answer the question or what our answer reveals about our thought process. The interviewer is as interested that we understand how the three financial statements as they are about who we are as a person. The interviewer needs to know: before we hire this person, can I sit next to them for 8-12 hours a day? In this way agree with the blog. Save certain technical questions from finance interviews, we usually should not be searching for the “right” answer when replying.

    We can theorize about our interview by seeking to understand why or how a question is asked, as the post also mentions. The blog points out that there is constantly tension created and erased and power dynamics at play during interviews. True.

    However, it is my view that we can never know for sure. This dilemma is one of the most frustrating while interviewing and stands in disagreement with the author’s argument. The author implies in the second half of his piece, optimistically if I might add, that we can correctly determine the intents of our interviewer or the exact dynamics at play…. And while we may be able to formulate a convincing theory on why a question was asked for instance, I have found that it is impossible to be 100% positive about such a theory. We may sense tension in the room when there is none.

    Maybe it is best not to theorize at all, prepare the best we can and just tell our story.

  9. Michael Zera September 7, 2018 at 8:45 pm #

    Seth does a great job by starting the article saying, “It doesn’t matter what the questions are really. They’re a prompt.” During job interviews, people may think that he or she must answer every question the correct way, like a test or quiz as Seth states later in the article. This is exactly what should not be done. Not just job interviews but in general, how are you going to differentiate yourself from everyone else who are being asked the same thing. Instead of answering questions at the bare minimum, take the questions farther then they can go. My father, who is an auditor at the Barnes Group in CT, interviews numerous people weekly looking for those who want to be apart of the company. He tells me how he interviews so many accountants who have a spotless resume and half of them have the personality as a wall. Not only is this not going to help with job interviews, but in real life scenarios as well. Go further and beyond what you are being asked, because those other people being interviewed are getting asked the same exact thing. So, what makes you different than the 10 other people being interviewed? Do the questions that are being asked really matter? They do, but if one does not go further than what is being asked, then how are you going to stand out? Seth also states to use the question being asked and use it “as a chance to see more deeply in what this interaction is for.” Comparing this to the Business Law class, Professor Shannon uses this approach to help his students. When he makes a student stand up and answer the question, he does not stop you there. He keeps going and asks the student more questions. Yes, he is doing this to see if the student read the material but wants them to further their knowledge and think. The professor is not doing this for his enjoyment, but what is the point of doing the minimum from what is being asked? How is that going to help you? Lastly, Seth’s last line is important stating, “if you’re not working to change minds, why are you here again?” Ignore the questions and go beyond them since there is never a right answer. Relating this to business law again, when the class is discussing a case and the whole class agrees on one side, take on the other side. Make an argument and try and change people’s minds by making them think harder then they had before. If you are not changing people’s minds, then you are doing something wrong. For those who always resort to the minimum of an answer, be different than everyone else and strive for excellence.

  10. Cassandra Sibilski September 10, 2018 at 8:06 am #

    This blog references how many people, when in an interview, or when answering a question, focus too much on the exact message of the question or prompt, rather than looking at the overall message of what the question might mean to answer it. When answering a question, you want to go above and beyond to share your opinions and give your ideas, and to convey your own message on whatever the subject is, rather than answering it the way you think it is “supposed” to be answered, or by giving the so called “right answer”. By thinking and answering in a deeper way, one is able to further themselves, and helping to share their ideas with others.

  11. Kent Flores September 14, 2018 at 8:41 pm #

    Even though this article was shorter than most articles I have read, it conveyed a stronger lesson than most I have read. I never stopped to think that a random question at an interview was meant for getting to know you better through constructive analyzing. Thinking it thoroughly, it makes sense why an interviewer would ask a question like “what passions you in life?” The reason behind this question is not just so that the interviewer finds out that your favorite team in the New York Jets, no, it is for the sole reason of finding out how you are as a person indirectly. For example, if one answers the question about passion with intense emotion and the interviewer can feel this emotion resonate in the speaker, then the interviewer learns from that question that the speaker can be assigned an important sales pitch, because he/she will put emotion behind the presentation and make the buyer see that the company is a great choice for an investment. The author also impacts me when he mentions that “If you’re not working to change minds, why are you here again?” For me, this last phrase allowed me to click reality with expectations, in the sense that it shows how even if you think or have a gut feeling that some questions or acts in an interview are done just to waste time or fill in questions needed to be asked, they in reality are not; every question is an opportunity to drive the conversation into deeper waters. This last phrase from the author makes me feel as if the dumber and more irrelevant the question may seem, the more important it is to the interviewer. Now I can start to formulate my interview answers in a broader sense and be able to answer the real questions at hand, which are who am I, what makes me different than the rest, what passions me, and am I going to actually bring to the company what I promise or am I going to be another fluke that the company has to figure out a way on how to fire once hired. I am truly grateful for the enlightenment of this article and I actually forwarded it to my friends back in my home town to share the message.

  12. Amari J September 19, 2018 at 7:35 pm #

    Ignore The Questions, although extremely short, is very honest and to the point. The author explains that when asked a question in an interview, do not analyze your answer as either correct or incorrect, think of it as a prompt to make yourself stand out and seem more interesting. “It doesn’t matter what the questions are, really. They’re a prompt.” Employers often ask the same set of questions to their interviewees, almost as if they are on a record player. But, by interpreting these questions as a way to tell a story you will grab interest and make the conversation more relaxed. Thinking of speaking in job interview, a podcast interview, a sales call, or a meeting can be nerve racking, but if you just think of each opportunity as a way for your employers to get to know you and understand why you are the perfect candidate for or reliable employees to them, you could release tension in yourself as well as in the room. We should “consider using the question as a chance to see more deeply in what this interaction is for…” Many people believe that when asked questions in a setting such as the ones stated, there has to be a “right answer” and will therefore stress about saying the “right thing”. In reality, the test is actually your emotional intelligence. The interview, meeting, podcast ect. is testing your ability to engage in conversation and proceed through that discussion smoothly. “If you’re not working to change minds, why are you here again?” As a result of speaking fluidly and portraying yourself as interesting as well as intelligent you should ultimately positively change the minds of anyone you speak to. If we continue to stick to the script of what we people want us to say, nothing will ever change and everything and everyone would stay stagnant. But if we challenge ourselves and others to exciting and intuitive communication we can change perspectives and offer diverse viewpoints on different topic matters. This article is not only pertaining to meetings and interviews, it also applies to the way we live our daily lives. If our goal everyday isn’t to positively change and expand the minds of others we are doing a disservice to ourselves and the world.

Leave a Reply