In her more than three decades in financial services, Barbara Bryne, CBS board member and former vice chairman of investment banking at Barclays, learned to evaluate interviewees using something she called the airplane test: “Could I sit on a plane from New York to L.A. with you and not be bored out of my mind?”
The question she kicks off interviews with is a good opportunity for candidates to dazzle with their conversational abilities. According to an interview with Quartz, Bryne started interviews by saying, “Talk to me about when you were seven or eight. Who did you want to be?”
Besides being a good conversation starter, Amanda Augustine, TopInterview career advice expert, tells CNBC Make It that the answer to a question like this will reveal an applicant’s true personality and passions. “The executive’s goal is to take the candidate ‘off-script’ and get them talking about something for which they hadn’t prepared,” says Augustine.
She recommends thinking of a specific job that fascinated you as a child and trying to remember what drew you to that career in the first place in order to draw parallels between that and the role you’re currently pursuing.
“Could I sit on a plane from New York to L.A. with you and not be bored out of my mind?”
For example, when Augustine was seven or eight she thought she wanted to be a teacher. While that’s not her occupation today, her current work allows her to educate and empower others, things that originally attracted her to teaching.
In addition to the job you wanted most as a child, you can also discuss the various occupations you’ve been interested in over the years, zeroing in on what they have in common to demonstrate more about you and your professional goals.
“Don’t be afraid,” says Augustine, “to go into a few specifics that allow your interviewer to see the real you.”