Leadership

Why PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel swears by this curveball job interview question

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel has vetted some of the biggest names in tech, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek.

To be sure, Thiel doesn't particularly care for interviews. He has even told Forbes they're "overrated." Still, the PayPal co-founder swears by one curveball interview question he says ensures top candidates: "Tell me something that's true that almost nobody agrees with you on."

According to Thiel, this interview question helps pinpoint applicants who are innovative thinkers with an abundance of ideas — the type of person who can survive Silicon Valley's competitive atmosphere.

The question, according to Thiel, tests both originality and courage. "It's always socially awkward to tell the interviewer something that the interviewer might not agree with," the billionaire explains.

So how would Thiel go about answering his own question? The investor says that he has "many" responses, but recommends following the framework, "Most people believe 'X', but the truth is not 'X.'

Many people believe this is an "easy, straightforward" question, adds Thiel, though he says it's actually a tough one to answer because originality is hard to attain. "When you find it, it's really valuable," he says.

Thiel notes that this type of question prevents candidates from giving "glib" answers. It forces them to reason and argue their point of view.

While interviewees can expect Thiel's head scratcher, the billionaire notes that he values resumes and references over the interview experience.

"There are people who interview well, and badly, and the interviews are often misleading in one form or another," explains Thiel.

He continues, "I'm always unsure about how much one can actually learn from interviews."

"I think if you have great references and a great resume that's probably all you need," says Thiel.

Video by Beatriz Bajuelos Castillo

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