Now This Is My Kind of Job Interview

Tell me about a situation at your current job where you failed, and how you handled it afterwards.

blah, blah, blah…

Describe how you would go about reducing the number of people affected by hunger in Philadelphia by 5%.

blah, blah, blah…

Most job interview entail the interviewer(s) sitting across the table from the job prospect, and asking a variety of questions like the ones above.

Well apparently not all people/companies conduct their interviews in such a manner.

The Wall Street Journal has a story about how several firms are incorporating a fitness component into their job interview. Here are some examples:

  • One job interview started with a daybreak run though New York City’s Central Park and ended in a cramped office gym for a round of pull-ups, push-ups, squats and burpees
  • One chief executive, with no advance notice, asked the interviewee on an hourlong “walking interview” through town. The woman said yes, but unfortunately the only shoes she had were the high-heeled ones she was wearing. She felt she could not say no to such a walk
  • The first meeting that had a prospect had with his future boss, a New York private-equity executive , was a weightlifting and cardiovascular workout
  • A Wall Street managing director played basketball with job candidates. He would step on their feet or yank their shirt in games, he said, to see how they reacted. If they kept their cool, they passed the test.
  • One woman recalled the time she was invited by a potential business partner to join him at a gym popular with bodybuilders and powerlifters. They spent an hour jumping onto boxes and pushing weighted sleds across the floor.
  • The president a technology services company would sometimes take job applicants on mountain bike rides outside Seattle, but only if they express an interest in cycling.

Now I would much prefer to spend an hour with someone doing a workout, as opposed to sitting in an office just answering questions.

Such an interview would impress upon me the value that the firm places on fitness, and would be the kind of place I would want to work, and have people of a similar mindset.

The story also notes that a growing number of companies have fitness facilities at the office, something else that would appeal to me. (side note – today I had a chance to go on an office tour with our summer business institute students to the Vanguard Group. It was a wonderful experience, and one of the unique things about Vanguard is its use of a nautical thing for many parts of its business. The company refers to its employees as its crew members, the cafeteria is called the galley, and the best one, they call the fitness facility Ship Shape.)

Well after reading the story in the Journal and thinking that having a fitness-based interview would be awesome, I began to read the comments. Many people felt that these types of interviews were a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen.

I would hope not, but I can see where a firm would have to be careful about having a workout as part of the interview process. I think the employer needs to give the prospect some advance notice, as well as the option to just have a more traditional interview.

Such simple policies would help address such issues as what if the prospect has a condition that limits their ability to do a stressful workout or what is someone is not a fitness fanatic, but are highly capable of doing the job they are interviewing for. Should a job offer hinge on how well the prospect did in a workout?

So while I would be all for the above type of interviews, I realize it may not be for everyone. And unless your interviewing for a job that requires the ability to bench 400 pounds or run a mile in less than five minutes, then prospects should be given the choice of whether or not they want to do the interview, as well as being told performance during the workout will not affect their job prospects, but how they act during the workout might be used as part of the evaluation process.

And perhaps even more important than using such an approach to interviewing, is that once a prospect becomes an employee, encouraging all employees to make fitness a regular part of their daily routine.

So kudos to all the firms mentioned in the article. I wish you the best in terms of getting the right people on the bus (or should I say ship) so as to keep moving your firm forward.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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