If you’re interviewing with JetBlue chairman Joel Peterson, there’s one word you’re going to be hearing a lot:
In a recent interview with Adam Bryant at the New York Times, Peterson explains that evaluating a candidate’s judgement is as important as assessing their intelligence and personality.
“Some people can be really smart and have high character and they just have no judgment,” he tells Bryant. “They don’t know the elephants from the ants.”
To make sure his would-be hires do, Peterson asks a lot of “why” questions. “I’ll ask people to tell me their story, and then you’re listening for inflection points. Everybody changes course, and the great question then is why and why again and then why again,” he says. “Once you start to understand why people have done things, you can pick up a lot about their judgment.”
Of course there’s no one perfect way to respond to “why?” in a job interview — the thing about judgement is that it’s inherently subjective — but here’s something thing to keep in mind: you want to use your answer to demonstrate you’re the kind of person who makes proactive choices, not reactive ones.
“[P]eople are often moving toward things or away from things,” Peterson explains to Bryant. “I like people who are moving toward things. I think when people are moving away from things all the time in their narrative — like getting away from a boss they hated — that’s a judgment question to me.”
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