Classic interview questions

  1. If you had to kill someone, who would it be?
  2. What have you been most wrong about?
  3. When have you spent < £100 on something that gave you an immense amount of satisfaction?
  4. What’s the biggest coincidence you’ve ever experienced?
    • A coincidence is “A surprising concurrence of events with no apparent causal connection.”
    • I like this one
    • Another famous one is a man picks ups ringing pay phone, and it’s a lady trying to get hold of him but she dialled his payroll number by mistake. Then again, it can’t be that good an example of coincidence if David Spiegelhalter has 10 other examples of it happening! (see his website)
    • Luck = chance taken personally
    • We may underestimate the likelihood of chance meetings due to hidden networks
  5. Do you sincerely believe in any conspiracy theories?
    • Joscha Bach argues that the main difference between a conspiracy theory and a consensus narrative is that latter tried to unify society, but the former tries to splinter it. Yet both of them “gives meaning to the world by connecting significant dots with confabulation and motivated reasoning, making truth and fiction indistinguishable”. Perhaps he’s right that the internet is making it harder to debunk conspiracy theories.
    • Note that some events can cease to be a conspiracy theory – as Mick Herron said, “It’s not a theory once it’s proved. After that, it’s just a conspiracy” (Slow Horses, p.147)
  6. Is cunning a good trait?
    • “Instead of following an open, clearly understandable line of behaviour, cunning is calculating how other people will react to certain forms of behaviour which are hiding the end game”… “this ability to assess things rapidly and then to act in a way that is not immediately readable/ understandable by the people around us in order to get an advantage that some people will doubtless feel is an unfair advantage” (Tim Parkes, translator of Machiavelli who, incidentally, was always truthful towards his wife)
  7. Tell that story, the time you did the wrong thing because you were scared. (link)
  8. When were you at your happiest?
  9. Tell me about the time you met the right person at the wrong time. (It doesn’t need to be romantic).
  10. Do you have a favourite joke?
  11. Imagine your funeral, and your family and friends have had a few drinks and are thinking of you. They want to make an idiosyncratic gesture to your memory. What would they do? What should they do?