LinkedIn’s Head of Recruitment Explains His “Unusual” Job Interview Exercise to Candidates

LinkedIn Head of Recruitment - Brendan Browne
LinkedIn Head of Recruitment - Brendan Browne
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Brendan Browne is LinkedIn’s head of recruitment and has been at the helm of the professional social network’s recruitment team for the last 17 years.

Browne has developed an unusual style of interviewing candidates which he says indicates to him whether he should bring a candidate on board or not.

When interviewing candidates to build his team, Browne’s first approach is always to hand over an erasable marker and direct the candidate to a whiteboard on the wall. Then he accompanies the action with the question;

“What are you most passionate about? Using the whiteboard, explain to me the process of how it works.”

Browne says that the question is always open to the candidate’s interpretation and also acknowledges that since the situations is ambiguous, he expects spontaneity in response.

He says, for example, that if a candidate happened to love brewing beer in their free time, they would be expected to draw out the brewing process and explain it. The same would be expected of a candidate with a more role-specific passion, such as product management.

The recruitment boss says that this unusual job interview exercise helps him discover four major things:

  1. What exactly do the candidates care about most deeply?
  2. How well can they explain themselves?
  3. How do they think about process?
  4. How do they deal with ambiguity?

By understanding the above four things, Browne says that he really is able to tell with certainty who the candidate is, and what is it going to feel like when the two are working their heads off on a really hard problem or project.

Just like his LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Browne subscribes to the belief that an ideal employee should fit into an overlap of three critical areas:

  1. Dream big
  2. Know how to have fun
  3. Get s*** done

This simple exercise (Browne’s exercise) helps him get a practical and real time feel of all the three components.

He further states that candidates are often slightly caught off by the question because they are always expecting something conventional and more job specific to the role they’re applying to, but their response to this feeling of unease determines whether they can handle what he expects of them in the workplace.

He gives an example “Maybe we decide to scrap a project we’re working on or something changes, like it does all the time in business — I want to see how you deal,” .

It’s why he thinks the answer to his favorite job interview question is “a decent leading indicator” of success in these types of situations.

What are your thoughts concerning Brendan Browne’s job interview exercise and how prepared are you to handle it if it’s thrown your way in real interview situation?

Soon recruiting managers in Kenya may be borrowing a leaf from LinkedIn.


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