The CEO of a $36 billion tech company shares the 3 intensely personal questions he likes to ask job candidates

The CEO of a $36 billion tech company shares the 3 intensely personal questions he likes to ask job candidates

Brad Smith Intuit CEO

Brad Smith

Candidates need to be willing to be "vulnerable and transparent," said Intuit CEO Brad Smith.

Intuit CEO Brad Smith doesn't go for conventional interview questions.

The tech CEO, who runs a $36 billion finance and business software company, interviews candidates going for senior positions at Intuit, as well as individuals with key talents who the company is seeking to recruit - like data scientists and designers.


He said two of the biggest traits he looks out for in candidates are intellectual curiosity and humility.

"We have to constantly learn and grow," he said. "And we believe that a player who makes the team great is worth more than just a great player."

When he talks to candidates, Smith has three intensely personal questions he likes to ask. He said they help him understand whether or not someone would be a good fit for the company. They are:


1. 'Take me through your life journey - and highlight two or three moments in your life that shaped who you are as a human being.'

"It's a test to see how vulnerable and transparent they're willing to be, because it's not a career progression, it's not 'tell me about all the jobs you've had,'" he said. "It's 'tell me about growing up and your siblings and what moments shaped who you are.'"

Smith said his own formative moments include losing a spelling bee in the fourth grade, getting bullied in high school, and his father's sudden death.

"Those three things shaped how I view life," he said.


2. 'What's the single biggest business mistake you made in your life and what did you learn?'

With this question, Smith said he is looking for "a willingness to admit a mistake." He's also hoping to "see if they were able to take that learning and continue to grow."

3. 'Why not Intuit?'

At the end of every interview, Smith likes to conclude with this tough question.

"If they're interviewing for Intuit, instead of asking them why they want to work here, I ask them, 'Why not'?" he said. "That's intended to see if they have the courage to tell me the things they're wrestling with in the decision, which gives me a chance to try to overcome that objection in real time."