Killer Interview Question: Tell Me About Your Background

This week's KIQ is one that isn't unusual at all. In fact, you may have been asked this in your last interview. But why do employers ask this question? One CEO provides her explanation.

Storyteller book image from Shutterstock

SoulCycle is a New York-based fitness company and Melanie Whelan is the CEO. Speaking with the New York Times, she revealed the questions she likes to ask prospective employees during the interview process. The first thing she asks is "What's your background?".

Whelan explains why: "It’s a great way to warm up any conversation, and it really helps me understand how you communicate. Are you linear, concise, and direct? Or are you a storyteller? Are you entertaining? Do you go off on tangents."

She then follows up with questions about what projects the person has been involved with.

"I listen for 'we' versus ‘I,’ and I want to know what you specifically did to impact the outcome," Whelan said.

How would you handle her questions? Let us know in the comments.

[Via Business Insider Australia]


    I'd have to ask them how far back they wanted me to go, because my background, and what makes me who I am, stems from the 80's when my mum got sick. As a teenager, it molded who I am, how verbal I am, how outspoken I am, and so forth so its very relevant if they want to know my background. Much of how I operate is because of that lack of discipline at a critical age, combined with a need to be responsible in other ways.

    More recent, its going to depend on what skills they are after. Analyst skills, accounting skills, or people skills. For anyone with a story to tell, it can be quite difficult to completely fill out such a picture without going off tangent, or knitting a tale. If you dont, you risk leaving things out that explain a lot about your character.

    Nice icebreaker question though, and it would help the interviewee become more relaxed.

    Either you didn't read my resume, or you have forgotten it. Either way, this is not a good sign.

    Tell Me About Your Background:
    Well at the moment I have a abstract springing line in blue at home.
    At work I have a flat black.

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