Extreme Interviews

Read and listen to the article and check the glossary for new vocabulary.

WHAT sort of dinosaur are you? If you answered Tyrannosaurus Rex, then the bad news is that you probably won’t get the job you’re applying for...


Welcome to the strange world of ‘extreme interviewing’, the latest trend from America in which interviewers throw bizarre questions at candidates to see how they react.

It may seem like a game, but extreme interviewing is deadly serious. The idea is to see how quickly job-seekers think on their feet and, at a time when 25% of recent graduates are unemployed, it offers employers a new way of separating the brilliant candidates from the merely very good.

This new approach to selecting candidates comes from Silicon Valley in California — where else? Google, famous for its demanding interview process, asked a recent candidate: ‘You are stranded on a desert island. 

You have 60 seconds to choose people of 10 professions to come with you. Who do you choose? Go!’

One of the early pioneers of extreme interviewing was Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, who could be famously cruel with job seekers. Faced once with a candidate he considered boring, Jobs suddenly pretended to be a chicken, flapping his arms and making clucking noises round the unfortunate applicant, waiting to see what he would do. In fact, the secret to extreme interviewing is neither in the question nor the answer. It is in the candidate’s reaction.

David Moyle, a headhunter with the recruitment agency Eximius Group in London, who admits to using the dinosaur question when selecting candidates, said: ‘Essentially, that kind of interviewing is used by us to give someone an opportunity to show they are smart and not easily flustered.’

‘Most candidates actually get something out of it, it’s not about trying to crush them. We are trying to give them an opportunity to show their personality, rather than just showing how they perform in an interview.’

Of course, getting the job is just the start. In the modern business world, survival will depend on what sort of dinosaur you really are.

Adapted from The Sunday Times and Oxford English File Upper Intermediate Third Edition

bizarre = very strange and unusual
think on their feet = to be able to think and react very quickly
approach = a way of doing something
Silicon Valley region in California with many hi-tech corporations
demanding = needing effort and skill
flapping = moving something up and down quickly, e.g. wings
headhunter = a person who looks for executives for a company
flustered = nervous and confused
crush = to destroy somebody's confidence
rather than = instead of