How do you get a job, or an internship, you are not qualified for? Say to the interviewer, “I am in fact qualified, and here’s why.” In so many words, the interviewer knows what she is looking for in a candidate but she does not know which candidate will make her think differently because she hasn’t thought that way before. I saw The Internship, where the opportunity to work at Google depended on answering, “You are shrunken down to the size of nickels and dropped to the bottom of a blender. What do you do?”
It’s a great scene, and as with the rest of the this movie, there is a lot more to be learned about the hiring process and employer branding than meets the eye. First, let’s view a clip of the The Internship Interview scene:
Funny right? There is much debate about the effectiveness of these types of abstract interview questions that Google has become famous for. At the simplest level, these questions get the conversation going on how the candidate thinks. At the most complex level, some shine light on hidden parts of both your attitude and aptitude.
These are the techniques used by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson:
Dive right in. These questions that many candidates find a little bit odd often lead to pauses. Elite candidates do not get taken a back – elite candidates will separate themselves by how they think on their feet.
When the interviewer asked, “You are shrunken down to the size of nickels and dropped to the bottom of a blender. What do you do?” Wilson and Vaughn did not hesitate.
“You take her flat on your back just like this,” says Vince Vaughn.
“Right, right, right,” add Owen Wilson. “Just lay back and enjoy that breeze.”
Cite relevant experience. Whether you are determining what to with your life as a nickel in a blender or estimating how many golf balls can fit in a school bus, life experience can frame the Googleyness discussion. When the interviewer asserted, “Once this blender is on, it’s on forever,” Owen Wilson cited life experience to get him out of the blender:
“Respectfully I got to disagree. We sold blenders and even the best model in the world are only gonna run maybe 10 or 11 hours. So we’re getting out and when we do we’re better off for it because whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Refine the conditions so you are talking about what you want to be talking about. With abstract questions, many details simply cannot be conclusively known. The interviewer will either choose to let you speculate, or flush out the hypothetical scenario for you. (note: the interviewers, not surprisingly – based on their lack of abilities to flush out the hypothetical situation – do not make another appearance in the movie).
Study this exchange to see how they complete their effortless transition from the blender to saving lives:
“It’s not so much getting out of the blender, it’s what happens next,” said Vince Vaughn. “That’s the question.”
“You’ve got two nickel-sized men free in the world. Think of the possibilities,” said Owen Wilson.
“I mean, on top of my head, and I’m just speculating, sunglass repair,” explained Vince Vaughn. “We’d be hell on those little screws.”
“Maybe stick us in those submarines that they put in people’s bodies to fight diseases,” concluded Owen Wilson.
By diving right in, citing relevant experience, and refining the conditions of the hypothetical situation, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn displayed their attitudes for changing the world and their aptitudes for being great talkers.
What you don’t see in this clip is what happens when the music shifts and the characters relate their current lives to being trapped in the blender. Google’s the opportunity for a new beginning. The shift from humor to introspection to tangible next steps is how to interview like a Hollywood bigshot.
See how much you’ve learned about interviewing! The Internship is far, far, more than a humorous 2 hour Google employer branding commercial!