4 Surprising Interview Questions That Will Help You Identify Who’s Really Being Authentic

By Michelle Cheng


Entrepreneur and graphic designer Tina Roth Eisenberg is a big believer in not separating who you are at work from you are outside the office. Her own career reflects the fact that when you let the personal and the professional intermingle, sometimes the best ideas are born.

After moving to New York City from Switzerland and realizing she needed more a community of like-minded creatives, she went about building one. She founded CreativeMornings, which puts on inspiring global lectures over breakfast on a Friday each month. Today, over 20,000 people attend these monthly meetings in 284 cities, she says.

In 2010, she became fed up with how bloated most digital to-do apps tend to be–so she co-created one to suit her own needs, and it’s been called the “web’s most beautiful to-do list.” Most recently, after spotting some “horribly designed” temporary tattoos in her child’s gift bag, she launched Tattly, an e-commerce shop of temporary tattoos crafted by real designers.

“I don’t believe in a professional or personal facade,” Eisenberg told the audience Thursday at the 99U conference in New York City. “It’s about what your personal experiences bring. I truly believe companies can transform society–and we as leaders can transform lives–” when authenticity is at the heart of what you do.

As such, Eisenberg cares a lot about staffing her teams with authentic people. These are the people who are going to perform–but who are also human enough to bring their emotions to work. Eisenberg recalled how when she went through a divorce, she found the strength and support she needed through her colleagues.

The challenge, of course, is figuring out who’s really being authentic, especially in an interview setting where candidates are primed to try to impress and try to say the “right” thing. Eisenberg shared four questions that help her zero in quickly on who’s going to be genuine at work:

1. Why are you here?

Rather than asking “Why do you want to work for us,” Eisenberg asks the question in a way that makes it O.K. to express feelings. “I want employees to show up really human. There shouldn’t be a difference between how you are at work or home.”

She gives an example of someone who was in the interview process for the video game company Naughty Dogs. He started talking about why he wants to work for them–talking about what the company is best known for. Then he stopped himself and blurted out how he really liked their game “The Last of Us” because he could relate to the gay character portrayed as a tragic heroic type. That was the moment he completely fell in love with the game, and ultimately why he wanted to work for Naughty Dogs. He was hired.

2. What do you do when you’re not working?

This is the question that shows how well-rounded your applicants are–and lets a bit of their personality shine through. Eisenberg says she wants to hear about quirky hobbies and weird obsessions. Some favorite examples from her own teammates include making perfumes, picking up photography, and making cosplay costumes.

3. Can you tell me a joke?

Eisenberg says that she always asks applicants to include a joke. If the person can’t think of one–or offers a really inappropriate one–it can say a whole lot about that person, she says. It’s a great way to gauge “Fingerspitzengefuhl,” a German term Eisenberg likes that translates to “fingertips feeling.” Does the candidate have great situational awareness, and the ability to respond appropriately and tactfully?

4. Would you rather fart confetti or burp glitter?

This question is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable, she says. “When people are having fun, they are doing better work,” she says. ” [It’s a] new definition of success that goes beyond money and power.”

 “Work should allow you to show up as you,” says Eisenberg. These questions will help help uncover the people who “are originals–they’ve broken the mold.”

This piece was originally published by Inc.

Image c/o Getty Images.

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