My Questions

August 9, 2008

It’s amazing what you can find out about a person with a couple of simple questions. This can be both fun and important when meeting someone new and a couple of years ago two questions popped into my head that I’ve been asking people ever since. My questions aren’t all that original, but I love them all the same.

Sometimes in interviews you get asked questions like, “if you were a fruit, what fruit would you be”. While it can be fun to watch people squirm over abstract questions like that, I’m not convinced that they tell you much about a person. All you really find out is how comfortable they are with abstractions, maybe it’s useful when interviewing someone for a management role but not useful in getting to know them.

I like questions that can start conversations. If someone tells me that they’d be an apple, what am I going to ask them after that? No matter what the follow-up question is, it would take a very special person to turn that into an interesting conversation. So asking someone what type of fruit they’d be almost feels like you’re setting them up to fail.

In general I don’t think it matters what question(s) you ask a person, as long as those questions can start a conversation. My two favorite questions are, “where would you go if time and money weren’t factors?” and “what would you learn if time and ability wasn’t an issue?”. I love these questions because the answers I get are so insightful.

These questions can tell you so much about a person because there is more to the answer than the answer itself. If someone replies, “I don’t know” to either of these questions you can probably assume that they aren’t dreamers or maybe that they are very shy. I’d suggest ending the conversation if they reply with, “I’ve already been everywhere and know everything”.

You can also get insights on someone’s past with these two questions. If they reply very quickly and with great detail it’s likely that the person really loves to travel and always has ideas for trips. What does it tell you about a person if they answered with the Egyptian pyramids (maybe a history fan), Darfur (could be a caring person), the Moon (trail blazer) or the Jedi Temple from Star Wars (might not be grounded in reality)?

The answers for what you’d learn are especially interesting, simply because time is more of a restriction than ability. However, some people don’t recognize this which makes me wonder how confident they are in themselves. Also, from what I can tell most people would choose to learn something in a totally different area than their day to day life. This is very interesting but not all that surprising when you think about it.

The nice thing about these questions is that there is absolutely no wrong answers, only insightful answers. Maybe we’ll both discover that we have a lot in common, maybe our own dreams will even be expanded or maybe we’ll both realize that we’re not likely to get along. These are all fantastic outcomes in my mind.

So if I haven’t asked you these questions yet, you’ve got time to think up some answers. Even better yet, surprise me with some questions of your own and we’re sure to have a great conversation.


4 Responses to “My Questions”

  1. I love those questions.

    Here’s some questions along those lines that I like:

    What’s you’re favorite pizza?

    If you were “god”, where/how would you hide the secrets to life?

    What was the last thing that made you cry? In public?

    Why do the Die Hard movies suck/rock? [Sorry, couldn’t resist.]

    If you could only pass on one bit of wisdom to the future, what would it be?

    Rock on,

  2. Ryan Grimm Says:

    Oh that is hilarious, it never ceases to amaze me how frequently Die Hard comes up around you and Evan.

    However delusional both of you are in regards to the third movie in that series (which was on TNT tonight actually), you’ve managed to redeem yourself with some fantastic questions. I may start stealing them.

  3. Evan Paull Says:

    Great article Ryan, here are some more insightful questions to ask:

    Why are the Die Hard movies better than the Lethal Weapon movies?

    What type of mental deficiency do you have if you don’t love the Die Hard movies?

    What Die Hard character will you name your first born son after?

    If I give you a 5 gallon water jug and a 3 gallon jug, why is Die Hard 3 the greatest movie ever made?

  4. Ryan Grimm Says:

    Evan those are without a doubt some good questions. I can’t help but wonder exactly where you ask people these questions. I figure it has to be one of three places, either waiting at the bus stop, while riding the bus on the way to Denny’s or at Denny’s. Do you find that you get different answers from different locations? (Sorry, I also couldn’t resit :).

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