Imagine you are on a job interview and the interviewer asks you to describe on a scale of 1 to 10 how weird are you? Your initial reaction is you are kidding, right? As you hesitate, you realize they are serious, so your second reaction is how honest should I be.
I love this interview question. How weird are you? This question is asked of every Zappos job candidate. For those who are not familiar with Zappos (derived from the Spanish word zapatos, meaning shoes) they are an online shoe and apparel company.
In 2008, Zappos hit $1 billion in revenue and were number 23 of the top 100 companies to work for. Zappos was bought by Amazon in 2009; however, they remain an independent operation.
When CEO Tony Hseih, a corporate drop out, joined Zappos in 1999, he determined that the key to success would be a strong company culture and values. The staff helped construct the values. Further, employees are responsible for assuring the values are maintained. To that end, the company publishes a "culture book" every year.
All employees are asked to write a paragraph about what the Zappos culture means to them. The Culture Book (over 400-pages) is published unedited, except for obvious typos. A copy is given to each employee and is available to anyone outside the company who would like a copy. I ordered one.
One of their core values is to "create fun and a little weirdness." Thus, the interview question, on a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you. The candidate's reaction to the question is just as important as their answer. They are seeking a response somewhere between straight-laced and psychotic.
I guarantee this is a question most job candidates have not prepared a response. However, any Zappos job candidate should expect this question for it is well publicized and is not a secret. Having said that, I would wager there are candidates showing up for interviews at Zappos who have not prepared for this question. Why, because very few job applicants research the companies they are applying in preparation for their job interview. If they do any research, it is superficial.
For example, if a candidate researches Zappos they will learn that every candidate is asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you. Great, they can stop and think I will answer 5 or 6. Case closed, final answer, perhaps, but what if they Zappos is looking for people who are a 7, 8, 3, or 4. What if they want you to give an example of a time when you created fun or a little weirdness? That requires a little more preparation otherwise you run the risk of trying to guess the "right" answer.
A little research will show you that Zappos wants people somewhere between 2 and 9. That does not narrow it down much. However, there is an additional piece of information that could help. I mentioned it before and that is the Culture Book. The Culture Book is loaded with examples of fun and weirdness. This should be extremely helpful in formulating your responses.
The encouragement here is that job interviews are less a game of hide and seek when you prepare in advance. Preparation is not that complicated if you simply take the time to do it.