“How Would You Decorate Your Cubicle?”

Sep 21, 2012
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

The other day, in my HR Management class, we had a discussion on how you would prep a candidate to answer the question: “Tell me about yourself.” One of the MBA students in the class said that you should have two different answers prepared: one tailored for one type of culture and another answer tailored for another type of culture. This really bothered me. As recruiters, we shouldn’t be forcing candidates into positions in which they cannot be their true selves.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once said: “Our whole belief is that everyone is a little weird somehow. We really recognize and celebrate each person’s individuality, and we want their true personalities to shine in the workplace environment, whether it’s with co-workers or when talking with customers.”

I really hold true to this philosophy when building my organization. When I hire recruiters and recruiting coordinators, one of the first interview questions I ask is: “How would you decorate your cubicle?” Seriously! People are taking a little by surprised with this question, but it ends up being a terrific icebreaker, as this allows people to know that:

  1. We are an “outside the box” kind of organization (a little “weird”).
  2. We really want to get to know YOU — not words on a resume.
At the core, in any organization, you need “good people”: people who can thrive in the environment.  You can teach “technical” skills to anyone; you cannot, however, change people’s core values. Like Tony Hsieh said, it’s about the individual. I really challenge recruiters and hiring managers to not force people into roles just for the sake of filling a need. We should be honest career coaches and work on ways in which we can guide people for their best fit.
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.