Saturday, May 20, 2017

Interview: Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?

Internal thoughts

My initial thought is neither as the concept seems a bit archaic. But to go with the flow, I think both. The natural answer could also to be a leader for managers. Although it may seem like thinking outside the box, it does not really answer the question. What are the questions?

  • Can you think outside the box (choose an option not provided)?
  • Are you proactive (hunter) or passive (gatherer)?
  • More go with the flow (hunter) or need time to analyze the problem (gatherer)
  • More vulgar (hunter) or civilized (gatherer)?
  • More risk tolerant (hunter) or risk averse (gatherer)? 

Of course, some of the descriptions could be flipped but I think this is a decent guide. So thinking through this, I want to tell a story on how I can attack a problem. And the problems that I enjoy solving are operational problems like how we work as a team and making processes more efficient. This target is more mobile thus making it seem more like a hunter.

My answer

I feel that I am better suited as a hunter. To be more specific, I think I am more of a sniper hunter. The skillsets of a hunter requires the ability to analyze a moving target. While a gatherer would require the ability to analyze more static variables which seem more suited for research or academic-type people, or collect details and facts before coming up with a solution. I am more natural at following moving targets.

I am not the type to just jump in and battle it out which would seem more like an in-fighting type hunter. Nor am I the type to just try everything and just hope something hits or sticks... something like a shotgun.

My preference is definitely more precise and surgical like a sniper. Not one that is able to hit the target, but one where it would not hurt the ecosystem. For example, my MO is typically to meet with the subject matter experts to learn their pros and cons. I attack the problem by slowly adjusting my processes to align with my findings. Not to just adjust to appease them, but to nudge them in the direction I would like them to go. In some cases, people won't even realize that they have changed for the better.

So on the scale, my strongest value from experience would be in the middle of hunter and gatherer but leaning towards the hunter category. My other value is that my skills allow me to be anywhere on the spectrum. If I have to go in fighting, I could hold my own. Or if I have to do a 500-page thesis, I can also do that.


It is possible that a scenario could be created to suit a gatherer. Given the limited amount of time to think for an interview, I prefer to choose the path that seems easiest to explain to someone which typically would be the natural way that I associate two different scenarios. This may well be easier as a gatherer for someone who is more attuned to that line of thinking. 

The important thing is to stay focused on what you want to demonstrate to your interviewer. Sometimes it may be figuring out what they are asking, but in this case I think the situation is to create an open-ended question to give some leeway to tell a story.

Also, I think reading the comments on glassdoor helps. Pretend that you are an interviewer and you asked this question to 20-30 people, and those are the answers that you got. Some seem interesting at first, but then you realize a lot of people respond in similar fashion. Remember that one response to one question does not define you. There is nothing wrong if your answer may be similar to another, just know that you'll have to excel elsewhere to make a difference.

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