17 Sep 2015
When interviewing job candidates, I don't ask about strengths and weaknesses anymore. Instead, I ask about frontiers.
Frontiers are the places we haven't explored, but we want to (or need to). They're the places we know where need to grow and want to put the effort into doing so. And they're things we know we need to learn and we yearn to do so.
I ask for frontiers because I want to know if the interviewee feels like they have more to learn. We can rest on our laurels and coast, or feel like we've "arrived." I haven't found people who think they are a "finished product" to be great hires. I want to hire people who still hunger to learn more and want to strive to be better. When I talk about hiring for "upside," this is what I mean.
I also want to find people who are honest and transparent about where they need to grow. Do they know themselves well enough to know what they don't know? Do they also know where they shouldn't put their time and effort in growing?
Once I explain what I'm looking for (and, unfortunately, it usually takes a minute), the answers I get are very different from asking about strengths and weaknesses. They're things like "I want to understand the domain I work in more." Or "I want to learn how to do this Lean UX idea I read about." Or "I'm learning how to paint landscapes because I want to better express my design skills." By avoiding a loaded term, I can ask what gets an interviewee motivated to be better at who they are and what they do.
We need to have that hunger to explore. To learn more, to try new things, and to find new insights about how we work and how we work with others. In the best work environments, we are better at what we do every day because we want it and our employers nurture the exploration.
What are your frontiers? And how will you go about exploring them?