Killer Interview Question: Are You The Smartest Person You Know?

Killer Interview Question: Are You The Smartest Person You Know?

This week’s KIQ is an interview question favoured by the eccentric CEO of Oracle Larry Ellison.

Light bulb moment image from Shutterstock

We’ve written about a similar question in a previous KIQ post which was “Who is the smartest person you know?“. While Lisa Thompson, Commvault human resources director for Asia-Pacific, used it to find out an interviewee’s real values and aspirations, Ellison takes the answer to “Are you the smartest person you know?” quite literally.

Ellison coached his recruiters to ask new graduates who want to work at Oracle this question. If a job applicant answers “yes”, they would be hired. If they answered “no”, the recruiter would him to name who they think is the smartest person they know. The recruiter will then try to hire that person instead.

We’re not saying that this is a good approach since Ellison, according to a former Oracle employee, did end up hiring a lot of arrogant people who thought highly of themselves. But Ellison is a ‘superboss‘ and that’s what makes him different to a regular manager. Superbosses are confident enough in their abilities that they won’t be threatened by hiring people who are smarter than them. They’re also not afraid to take a chance on unconventional individuals.

How would you answer this question? Are you really the smartest person you know? Let us know in the comments.

[Via Business Insider Australia]


  • This silly question presupposes that intelligence is the most important attribute in an employee. There’s a lot of people with IQs waaay over to the right of the bell curve who no sane employer would want on their payroll!

  • I’d like to be able to say no, but usually I am the smartest.
    I try and surround myself with people who know things I don’t, it gives me the opportunity to learn something I don’t already know. However I’ve been doing this for a long time and now I’m typically the smartest most knowledgable person in any give group of people.
    Now I just read a lot, I read about anything and everything. The more I know and the more I can do the better.

  • I don’t even have a degree. Technically, anyone who finished university would be considered “smarter” than me.
    Does that make me un-employable?

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