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Interview Question: Icebreaker

May 17, 2011

Skittles Today at work we were interviewing students for a new placement. As it was one of the first real competency based interviews for most of them, we wanted to make them feel really comfortable and relaxed and so needed a really good icebreaker. Icebreakers occasionally work well, but on the whole tend to be a little bit awkward, weird and a total waste of time.

Steve Boss Man came up with the one we used and initially I thought it could be one of those uncomfortable moments above:

As with many workplaces, in the office, we often end up talking about tv and food. So the icebreaker is, if you could sit down with any meal and tv program, what would it be?

But it wasn’t to be one of those painful moments. Instead it was one of those icebreakers that worked, and it worked because the topic of conversation was short and snappy, provided a brief insight to the interview panel’s lives (humanised us even!) and most importantly it was based around food and TV. It was also an easy first question to ask the students because food and TV are the two things we all share in common!

As it was students responding you might have expected pizza or Indian to be the most common response, but the most common response was mummy’s home-made speciality.

Not all of the responses were as good, and two of my least favourite and commonly cited responses to questions were:

1) Can you give an example of how you have utilised social media in a marketing campaign?

Almost all candidates talked about social media as if it was only Facebook and a few mentioned Twitter, but, and I quote, “no one really uses Twitter”. My two top tips for those people are, firstly read up on what social media is, and second, Twitter has 200 million user worldwide!

2) How would you explain sporadic attendance figures at our events?

At least three students said it was because students have no time as they are so busy with their studies and therefore can’t attend events outside of their degree’s.

This has got to be the most ill informed answer to the question, all sprawling out of student’s mouths. I accept that during deadline periods, student’s time can be scarce, but come on, as a student myself, when it’s not a deadline period, the disposable time that students have is comparable to holiday makers or the unemployed, hence the success of this group on Facebook…

Anyway, on that note, here is day 139 of the Food Experiment:

07.40 Toast and Marmite x2
10.00-12.30 Skittles (Pictures)
13.10 A truly exceptional ham, cheese and tomato baguette with sweet chilli mayo.
13.30-16.00 Peanut M&M’s and Berry Mix
19.50 Spaghetti in a tomato based sauce with chocolate soufflé

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