how to answer when an interviewer asks “what do you do outside of work?”

interviewer wants me to write a fake performance review for my future self

A reader writes:

I am currently in the running for a position I think could be an excellent fit for my career, and I for the company. As part of the interview process, they have asked me to complete a performance review. Basically, I am supposed to pretend that I have been at the company three months and fill out a review based on what I have achieved, what I want to achieve going forward, my strengths, and areas of opportunity. After speaking with the hiring manager, this is meant to get a grasp on my writing skills and self assessment, but I am really at a loss for where to begin. I have the job description and after the phone interview I have a pretty good idea of the position, but I just don’t know where to start!

You’re not sure where to start because this is ABSURD. It’s one thing to ask you to talk about your plan for your first three months (frankly even that often isn’t rooted in a ton of reality, but it’s at least a more reasonable question), but asking you to assess your future hypothetical self on work that hasn’t happened yet is in the realm of … fan fiction. They’re asking you to write fan fiction about yourself.

Is this someone you really want to work for? At a minimum this is a warning sign that they don’t know how to hire, and it may also be a warning about their critical thinking.

If you really want the job and aren’t deterred by this silliness, you might as well indulge in the rampant speculation that’s being requested and fill it out as if you’ve had an outstanding three months. Take a look at the goals of the position and whatever knowledge you gained in the interview about how your success would be measured, and have at it. Keep it reasonably realistic so that you don’t look comically out of touch, but look at it as a chance to reflect back your understanding of what a successful initial performance would look like and what the challenges of the role are likely to be.

But seriously, this is pretty silly. If they want to see your writing skills and ability to self-assess in action, there are easy, obvious ways to do that: they can have you do a job-related writing exercise, and they can ask you to self-assess work you’ve already done.

interviewer wants me to write a fake performance review for my future self was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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