The Case for Rituals in the Workplace

1 Wired

U.S. public places and office spaces are becoming more secular each year as adherents to the Establishment Clause seek to reduce the exposure of one belief over another. There are many arguments for not having a state religion and this premise was a founding principle that ensured U.S. citizens were free from the religious persecution that drove early settlers to these shores. While not having a formal state religion (arguable) benefits the plurality, the push for sanitizing most traces of religion from our public spaces is depriving us of an essential activity: rituals. 

We are a ritualistic species. This is an evolutionary advantage that led H. Sapiens to triumph over Neanderthals. Cultures all over the world are bound together by a rich tapestry of rituals that contribute to social cohesion. They often center on stress reduction, community building, and status recognition and involve synchronized, attention-getting, and stylized behavior taking place in ceremonial or symbolic settings. 

We’re wired for ritual, an instinct that emerges and is solidified by every major religion. Every major religion is full of rituals, each with their holy day requiring specific actions that typically involve gathering together for group activity in symbolic devotion to a belief, god, or historical event. 

Rituals take place on a schedule, based on the calendar (like a month of fiscal quarter), celestial events (cycle of the moon or procession of the equinoxes), events (achieving 100%, marriage, or childbirth), or aging (job tenure or initiatory rites). The regular schedule creates familiarity and expectation that something will happen at a predetermined time. When the ritual occurs we feel comfort and relaxation, all is as it should be (even if the ritual is painful). 

As we come together for this ritual we create space that is held together by collective intention. When gathered together for a collective purpose we learn to trust those observing the ritual with us. This creates common reference points and builds deeper social bonds. 

As the ritual continues a rhythm develops. This routine leads to depth. Inside the safe space woven by trust  held together by community, we drop deeper into the ritual, daring to be exposed, seen, and felt, and by doing so become more raw and honest with ourselves and others. This depth ushers more power for the individual and collective. The ritual ends by us recognizing status, accepting a shared truth, empathizing with our fellows, feeling compassion for our humanity, and celebrating.

Ritual space is sacred. The word comes from the Old French sacrer meaning “consecrate, anoint, dedicate”. We are dedicating a space for a purpose, setting an intention for how this time and place will be shared. We have lost much of the sacred in our secularization. Public space is secular, not sacred, and as such we grow more disconnected from our shared rituals. 

2 Work Needs Ritual

We need more rituals in the workplace. Whether we’re digital, remote, or in-office, ritual helps create the space for genuine connection in a work environment. We bring our best selves. When people expect ritual, they prepare. If the ritual occurs after achievement, it gives us something to shoot for and a shared memorable moment to commemorate our attainment. Ritual helps calibrate our humanity, create commonality, and have fun. 

In the team meetings I’ve led recently, we’ve taken to starting our meetings with the ritual of sharing three gratitudes. When it becomes an expectation, it becomes a way that we set the space. There’s plenty to read about the benefits of being grateful so I won’t bore you with that here. When we come to a meeting expecting it, over time, the gratitudes become more personal and engaging. 

Sales is abound with potential for rituals. Welcome rituals for joining a new team or starting a new position.  Recognition rituals for hitting month, quarter, year, and club. Celebration rituals like banging the gong or happy hours. And then there are company rituals like commemorating an important milestone, connecting to the early days/founding, or devoting time to a certain cause each year. 

Ritual requires reverence, meaning we must make our rituals overt. It is time to recognize our need for ritual, normalize it for the work environment, make its existence explicit, and allow participation as optional, but encouraged. We want people to lean in and bring their hearts, not engage begrudgingly while rolling their eyes. Rather than push for the secularization of our work space, let us anoint it in our shared intention. 

Rituals can also be personal as well. The surgeon scrubbing their hands in a certain way is a ritual that creates the sacred (dedicated, anointed) space called the operating room where great concentration occur. The same can be said for our morning, coffee, exercise, and work preparation rituals. All can help create the sacred space necessary for the performance of some meaningful activity.

Note that a routine is something we do that needs to be done regularly while a ritual is a deeper more meaningful practice engaged with purpose behind it. By this definition, we need less routine and more ritual in our personal and professional lives.

3 Variety is the Spice of Life

It also makes sense for our workplaces to encourage the sharing and observing of other rituals that are important to our diverse employees. Homogeneity creates fragility. Variety creates resilience. Let’s welcome the full spectrum of rituals to be acknowledged in the office, though not necessarily practiced. This allows us to bring our whole selves to work and to (hopefully) be seen and appreciated for who we are. Sure, it could lead to some conversations with HR, and this will be healthy in our pursuit of inclusive work environments. 

We must do more than merely tolerate those who have different beliefs if our communities, businesses, and country are to thrive. Toleration is often thought of as grudging and short of acceptance. None of us have to accept another’s beliefs. The skill (yes, it’s a learned skill) of being able to maintain one’s own beliefs while seeking to understand (or even engage in) another’s is essential for building mutualism in our pluralistic society.

Our ability to be open to the beliefs that underlie an entirely different worldview is one measure of our compassion and humanity. It is through the exposure to different beliefs and rituals that we come to more deeply know our own. That you are different is to be expected and celebrated, not denigrated and relegated to hiding. Bring your ritual and your beliefs. Know they are welcome here and in the organizations I lead or am involved with. 

4 In the Workplace?

Yes, now more than ever. American culture rotates heavily around the workplace as a primary nexus of socializing and interaction. We “live to work” more than the other way around. As the nature of work continues to evolve it must continue to meet more of our needs, ritual being one of them. It is time to create and acknowledge rituals centered around the organization’s shared mission and our work within it or create the space for personal beliefs and welcome their rituals.

Many of us are unable to sit on each other’s desks. “Death by Zoom” is nearing workers’ compensation levels. We’ve lost the breakroom coffee chat. Many experiences cannot be replaced digitally. It is from the comfort of our homes that we have a great opportunity to welcome ritual into our digital work space to battle digital fatigue and build deeper interpersonal relationships. Ritual can then follow us back to the office (if we ever go back) as one of the big boons from this time.

As I wrap up this piece, I found a great article in the New York Times about Sacred Design Lab. It is full of resources and other practitioners who have already put significant effort into this need of ours. Reading the comments on the NYT article I notice a high level of cynicism from commenters about whether this is really needed. In the constant effort at sense-making, I will explore the case against rituals in the workplace soon, just as I recently did in the cases for and against space settlement.

Hill Climber or Valley Crosser: Is Your Hill Worth Dying On?

Here’s an overused truism: life is a journey. 

In longer form: life is about the journey, not the destination. 

These linguistic phrases are repeated often because they accurately represent our lived experience. 

Language shapes our world and we often think in metaphors like this.

They help us grasp concepts in relatable terms. 

Enter a newer metaphor: Hill Climber and Valley Crosser. 

Which one are you?


Theoretical physicist Lee Smolin first wrote about the concept as applied to academic research. His point, as summarized by Tim Kastelle and Roland Harwood, is that:

Some scientists…are what we might call “hill climbers”. They tend to be highly skilled in technical terms and their work mostly takes established lines of insight that pushes them further; they climb upward into the hills in some abstract space of scientific fitness, always taking small steps to improve the agreement of theory and observation. These scientists do “normal” science. In contrast, other scientists are more radical and adventurous in spirit, and they can be seen as “valley crossers”. They may be less skilled technically, but they tend to have strong scientific intuition — the ability to spot hidden assumptions and to look at familiar topics in totally new ways.

I came across the concept from a single mention made by Daniel Schmachtenberger during Rebel Wisom’s Sensemaking Course (highly recommended). Its profundity as an useful analogy struck me and its exploration has led to the distinctions below.

What is a Hill Climber?

Hill Climbers are motivated by traditional definitions of success like status, title, and wealth. Like the playground game, their goal is to make it to the top and become king of the hill. Their role is that of a Motivated Climber, where there is a set destination, the social, economic, or political top. Hill Climbers demonstrate their attainment through virtue and success signaling. 

The structures Hill Climbers navigate are hierarchical, and thus, zero-sum, by nature. There can be only one CEO, one VP, or one Executive Director. Moving up the ladder requires acquiring the finite availability of resources and power positions at the exclusion of others. Successful hill climbers are masters of power dynamics. 

A Hill Climber has bounded returns, meaning that because the success path is pre-defined and previously ascended by others, the opportunity to add value or novelty is bounded by incremental, rather than phase-shift, innovation. Because the destination is along a more known path, Hill Climbers iterate and improve what already exists and are much more likely to end with a modicum of financial success.  

The top level Hill Climber becomes the master of an existing domain by iterating and improving existing processes, excelling and dominating over competitors, & ascending and defending the hill. 

Hill Climbers ask themselves “how can I get ahead?” and “how can I create more?”.

What is a Valley Crosser?

Valley Crossers are motivated by achievement and exploration of uncharted territory. As they look across a chasm in front of them, they cannot decipher the distance to the other side or the contour of the terrain they must cross in order to achieve their outcome. Their role is that of an Intrepid Explorer, driven into the unknown allured by what might await them. 

The structures Valley Crossers navigate are more cooperative than competitive. These grand explorations are rarely embarked upon alone and require a complex web of collaborators to achieve breakthroughs. 

A Valley Crosser has the potential for significant, unbounded returns alongside a higher risk of “failure”. Because Valley Crossers trek an unknown path, their journey is one of trial and error, where maintaining a “don’t know mind” is essential for new discovery. Rather than iterate and improve what exists, Valley Crossers invent entirely new realities, or nothing at all and end with little financial success. 

The top level Valley Crosser is the forebearer of a new domain in thought or commerce, unearthing new inquiries to be solved and eliminating possibilities that don’t work. 

Valley Crossers ask themselves “what problems are worth my time to solve?”, “what’s difficult?”, and “how can I create something new?”.


When I first set out to write this article, I set out to prove that Valley Crossers are more important to our society because I have a personal proclivity (read bias) towards the value of Valley Crossing. Either/Or thinking like this will almost always fail us. This is the same type of polarized thinking fueling our many ideological clashes drawn around cultural battle lines: our “us versus them” mindset. 

The reality is typically more complex and nuanced than the easy and convenient temptation to default to one pole or another. The role of the Sensemaker is to decipher the signal from the noise present in all perspectives and then create a coherent understanding from the signals that drives personal meaning and action.

Some of the top Hill Climbers are by necessity Valley Crossers. Anyone who has climbed a mountain knows that the route to the top is rarely a straight shot and often a surprise valley or ravine is hiding between here and the top. Similarly, the top Valley Crossers have to climb hills to get traction and compete in the modern economy and marketplace of ideas.

Our primary societal orientation is Hill Climber. We need more Valley Crossers. Will society’s most vexing problems be solved by Hill Climbers or Valley Crossers? Or those that play in both realms? It seems that innovators cross valleys before climbing hills. Our trumpeted technopreneurs like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs (and all the others), even Thomas Edison, all crossed valleys before commercial success catapulted them to the top of a hill many others now find themselves on. 

“A hill worth dying on…?”

You may have heard the phrase “that is not a hill worth dying on” before. I have learned in my career to choose carefully which hills to die on (figuratively of course). Perhaps the most important part of this entire analogy is hill or valley selection. 

Whether we are climbing a hill or crossing a valley, which one is ultimately more important than the means by which we’re pursuing it. Think about the hill or valley you are on. Trace the outcome of your escapade to its conclusion. Begin with the end in mind. What is the expected natural outcome of this particular path? How does it align with your values?

Thinking like this must be one reason why I’ve heard people say, “I looked at the future and realized I didn’t want my boss’ job so I opted out…” No matter where you are today, remember that it’s never too late to start a new hill or a new valley. And it’s essential to periodically evaluate your path, progress, and destination.

Some Questions to Consider:

  • What’s at the top of this hill? Is it worth it to me?
  • What do I vision is at the other side of this valley? Is it worth it to me?
  • If money were no object, what hill or valley would I find myself on?
  • If I cast off societal expectations/taboos, would I choose a different hill or valley?

Answering questions around legacy and purpose is useful when considering your trek. 

Whatever hill or valley you find yourself on, may you become aware of your path’s trajectory, evaluate its merit, and chart the course that best suits you (and those you consider). 

Carry on my intrepid friend! 

Five Questions Worth Asking

What if the question I’m asking myself right now is the biggest determinant of my future? What if by asking that question I embarked on a grand inquiry to discover the answer leading to previously unimagined realities?

The following five questions are worth asking:

What’s mine?

Look, act, and dress a certain way. Drive a certain car. Adopt a certain set of beliefs. Be a card carrying member. Depict life on social media a certain way. Signal success through material accumulation.

This is all PROGRAMMING. It’s designed by people who seek to have influence, consciously or unconsciously, and push an agenda that serves their interests by manipulating our beliefs and behavior.

But what’s really mine? Versus what’s my parents? What’s generational trauma? What’s advertising? What’s social pressure? What’s an old paradigm? How am I conforming? What doesn’t serve me?

Beneath the veneer and layers of programming is the true self. The authentic expression of our own needs, desires, and potential untainted by agenda and narratives about what success and happiness is. What can I shed? What’s mine? What’s true?

In Service Of What?

Proposition: one meaning of life is to be in service to others by upholding the universal law of reciprocity.

Language is important. Not “In Service TO What”. TO what suggests subordination to that which is being served. Rather, OF what, suggests what is being served flows through, with me as part of a whole.

Many people are In Service To Money. Servants to the system. Some are In Service Of Others. Many are in In Service to Themselves by default.

What’s greater than me that is worth it? What’s required of me to answer this question? What is worth my time?

Where am I needed?

What did I do when I first knew?

When I first knew of our environmental degradation? When I first actually saw the injustice prevalent across the globe and in our backyards? When I first recognized our fractured political system? When I first glimpsed the disconnection from ourselves and our communities? When I first saw we’re optimizing for the wrong outcomes?

Twenty years from now if my young adult child turns to me and says, “Dad, [insert system] is pretty messed up. When did you first know? What did you do when you first knew?”

What will I say? What did I do?

What’s my unique contribution?

Because each of us has something truly unique to offer hiding beneath the layers of programming and fear.

Does the tribe need another [insert my role here]? What’s my zone of genius? How do I build trust in the value of what I have to offer outside of the financial compensation for it? What lights the fire inside me? How far am I willing to go to find this? How uncomfortable am I willing to be? What won’t I sacrifice?

Life wants nothing more than for us to bring forward our unique contribution, to be in our gift, and offer it to others.

What’s my legacy?

From ashes to ashes and dust to dust, if there is one thing to be sure of, it’s the timely end to all human lives. And where we’re going material goods have no use (unless you’re being mummified with your gold to prepare for the afterlife like the ancient Egyptians). So what’s the point of all of this?

Maybe its children. Or charity. Or building something great. Or useful. Preferably useful and life sustaining. What endures after we’ve taken our last breath? Will the Presidents Club or that sweet media room crystallize my contribution? What do I choose to have meaning?

The How Takes Care of Itself

Even though these are “what” questions they get at our Why.

Don’t worry about the how. The how takes care of itself.

Yes, it’ll be hard work. But it’ll be easy to do because we’re clear on our Why.

Invest attention in getting clarity about what’s most important.

Remember that the path is directional. Inquiries evolve.

It’s never too early or too late to ask these questions.

Henry David Thoreau said “the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.”

What if the way out of desperation is asking questions like this?

Why I’m Not Reporting the Amazon Package I Didn’t Recieve

It was my mistake. The vacation was planned months in advance. Recently I’ve been swimming. Or doggie paddling maybe. I need all of the help I can get as I thrash my way to new personal records (just swam 1km in 33 min for the first time). So I ordered a pair of webbed swimming gloves to help me move more quickly through the water and maintain my upper body strength.

I ordered the gloves before vacation. We planned on leaving on Wednesday morning and Amazon expected the shipment to arrive on Tuesday.  We left a day early on Tuesday and the package was a day late arriving on Wednesday night. Even if we had left at our original time I wouldn’t have received the package. A classic switcheroo. When I returned, there was no package on my doorstep and no package at my apartment office. Poof! Gone like Blackbeard’s treasure. I’m guessing whoever wound up with the package was probably disappointed unless they are a wanna-be amphibian like me.

Whose fault is it that I didn’t receive the package? I knew better. I saw the timeline was tight. As I’ve wrangled with the intricacies of global manufacturing and fulfillment for my upcoming Kickstarter party game, I’ve learned that logistics is no easy feat, even for Amazon. The reality is that I ordered a package I wasn’t sure I could receive. Amazon always leaves packages at the door and when I clicked the purchase button I knew I was taking a risk.

Admitting my simple lapse of judgement is hardly the purpose of this piece. I had two options after my webbed hands disappeared. I could pass this off to Amazon or maybe the retailer. And in the past I would have clicked the “return or replace items” button on Amazon and not thought twice about it. And wouldn’t that be easy? The gloves were only $8.80. Surely Amazon can absorb that. Maybe it would get passed to the shareholder. Either way, I’m not out the $8.80. In fact, considering the markup on the item, they’d only be out $3. Good deal, right?

Wrong. This type of thinking is exactly what erodes healthy societies. It’s the tragedy of the commons. We identify primarily as individuals, rather than as a member of the group, and care only about extracting the maximum personal benefit without regard for how that affects the common good. Put another way – this is the same as the one kid in class who always ruined it for the rest of class.

In public policy, we’d call these externalities, side effects of an action that is not reflected in the price of a good or service. The litterer and the polluter pass the cost of their actions onto society just like the repeat filer of bankruptcy and the commercial fishing operations depleting fisheries. These and many more costs are bore out by all of society.

It would be really easy to tell Amazon I never received the package. A younger, more selfish Evan would have done this twice without thinking. “It’s not my problem.” What a convenient approach to take. Our opportunity, as humans, citizens and employees, is to take responsibility for our personal actions rather than passing the impacts onto others.

There’s a journey from being one of the crowd to the feeling that you alone are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Whether it’s an Amazon package, littering or stepping up to take responsibility for something in your business, the more we take true personal responsibility of our actions, the stronger we make the whole.

The challenge with this outlook is that the larger the whole, the more likely we are to perceive our individual actions as insignificant. When we are one of 318 million or one of 7.5 billion, it’s easy to see the consequences of our actions as one drop in a large bucket that won’t cause it to overflow. The longer we remain anonymous as individuals, the more we exacerbate many of this century’s biggest challenges. Rugged individualism may have helped build America into a great country. Yet as the world turns a page and enters a new millennium, our choice to identify as a community of humans rather than as a disconnected single entity will define us. Identifying as either a community or as individuals will help seal our common fate, each with drastically different outcomes.

Back to the absconded package. The fundamental breakthrough is realizing that while it’s easier (financially) to report the package lost/stolen, passing those costs on down the line, even in this insignificant purchase, perpetuates the thinking that I am an individual rather than a part of this community.

With Earth Day having just passed, and with the increased recent global trends of isolation, separation, and otherness, I urge you to consider your actions in light of “yourself as an individual” or “yourself as a member of a community”.

Who You Are At Work Is Who You Are In Life

You’ve heard it ad nauseum. “Find Work-Life Balance”, it’s the holy grail of being a professional. Or perhaps you’ve read about version two, “Work-Life integration”, in more recent articles that encourage the breaking down of barriers between work and life in our hyper-connected world.

Unfortunately, we’ve been sold a big fat lie. Both the concepts of balance and integration fail to reveal to us what is really happening in our lives. The entire concept assumes that there’s separation between work and life. Let’s examine both a little more closely. Work is how 8 or 10 hours a day passes. Life is there when you wake up, when you slack off, when you work hard and when you go to bed.

The Work/Life dichotomy can’t exist because by definition, one contains the other. You cannot take a city out of a state any more than you can try to remove yourself from your family tree. There’s no “work you” and “rest of life you”. You may project some version of yourself for eight hours a day – it’s still just you and your life. Whether you leave work at the office right at 5pm or have blended the lines with creative scheduling and work email on your personal phone, it’s your life before you started working, throughout the day and when you finally call it quits. So what’s really going on?

Every single minute you are working, life is happening. Every single minute you’re it giving it your all, life is happening. Every single moment you are reacting, deciding, operating, expressing, etc… life is happening! At every moment of your work day, it is you in your real life. There’s no distinction between work and life. In fact, it’s totally unnecessary to put energy towards balance or integration – what a relief!

In each moment of our job or career, we have the opportunity through our words, actions and thoughts to define who we are in life. Greatness cannot be achieved from 5pm to 8am. Hustle doesn’t take a break from 9a to 5p. To become your possibility, you have the option to realize that in every moment, who you are choosing to be only reinforces who you are – or aren’t. What an opportunity! If you decide to take advantage of it…

  • To be a loving family member, exhibit care and compassion for others at work rather than spread negativity.
  • To be a person who gets really great at a hobby, practice excellence at work by accepting nothing but your best work rather than “mailing it in”.
  • To be a person who triumphs and perseveres in life, book the extra hours and always get the job done well rather than punching the clock and thinking it’s not your problem.
  • To be a member of the community, take action when you see something that affects another department even if devoting your attention to it has no direct benefit to you.
  • To be a person who gets the most of their time, figure out how you can get 15 to 30 minutes more work done each day rather than squander your time.
  • To be a person who takes care of their health, learn how hard to push and when to call it quits rather than working yourself sick.
  • To be a trustworthy person, honor and fulfill all of the commitments you make rather than making empty promises that diminish the power of your word.
  • To be a punctual person, be on time everyday and acknowledge your tardiness.
  • To be a cool, calm and collected person, practice being calm and organized under deadlines rather than working in a chaotic fluster.

Who we are at work is who we are in life. When you step into this paradigm, you realize that in each moment you are defining what it means to be you. Nothing is an action unto itself. Rather, how you think about work and at work reinforces yourself as a [insert adjective here] person. The actions you take and the way you go about your work creates habits that extend far beyond work hours. The higher your awareness about who you are being and the outcomes of those states, the greater your ability to consciously choose who you want to be.

Tearing down the fabricated narrative that work and life are separate is an opening to realize how powerful we are in creating our own success and our lives. It is easy to get lost in the busyness of modernity and go into auto-pilot. As you go on, now, browsing LinkedIn or getting back to work, know that you are defining who you are as a professional – and as a person. Maybe you’re at work. Or maybe you’re at play. Either way, your life is now. What are you making of it?

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing.”        ~L.P. Jacks~

How to Fail Your Interview in the First Five Minutes

We’re barely 3 minutes beyond pleasantries and already the panic is setting in. The hopeful’s eyes dart back and forth, searching the bare wall behind me for any semblance of a clue or perhaps a phone-a-friend. You can invariably see the light bulb go off and the look of panic quickly fade underneath a confident smirk of “I got this.” Then – commence the spewing!

Utter nonsense! Syllables mix-and-matched as carelessly as a first grader’s string art. It probably sounds good at one point as it rattles around up there. But THAT answer should never be spoken. The question?

“So, tell me what you know about [Company Name]?”

Seems simple. Yet interview after interview, I’m astonished at the pitiful answers to this question. I am a Sales Development Manager at AppFolio, a SaaS solution for the property management industry. One candidate told me “you do IT for school districts and banks.” Uh-huh. Riiiiiight. Then there’s my favorite “AppFolio does software.” Absolutely brilliant!

I previously assumed that because the candidate has taken the time out of their life to apply, go through the screening process and travel to meet with me in person, they surely know about the company. How wrong I was…

If a candidate doesn’t know, AT MINIMUM, about the products/services we deliver and who our customers are, I cannot take the candidate seriously. In the digital age that we enjoy, there is no excuse for not doing your research. I could care less that Indeed or LinkedIn allows a candidate to click one button to apply. Or that in a binge of applying for jobs a candidate forgets where they applied. By the time an interviewee walks through the door, it’s reasonable to expect a basic understanding of the business.

It’s certainly not recruiting’s fault – over 95% of the candidates I interview have Bachelor’s degrees from accredited institutions (I’ll forgo the education system commentary – for now). It’s no secret that acquiring talent is often like the sales team getting a bluebird whale on December 29. Great people are hard to find.

By minute five of an interview, I can almost guarantee whether someone has a non-zero chance of being hired. I’ve found this question to be the quickest way to determine quality when hiring for an entry-level position. It quickly separates those competent enough to survive the most basic of questions.

Good answers indicate thorough research and an understanding of the company’s value proposition. Ideally, a candidate can describe both the product/service and how that impacts the customer. The best answers preemptively tie in the role being interviewed for and how that fits into the big picture for the company.

Bad answers lack specificity and are sometimes even plain wrong. If they are not wrong, it’s obvious nothing concrete is willing to be wagered on. The more vague the answer, the shorter I will cut the interview. A bad answer is also “I’m not too sure.” While I appreciate the honesty, now I question the candidates judgement in a.) not preparing properly and b.) being willing to admit it.

Though I have never hired someone who has tanked this question, I don’t rule them out completely. In each interview, I try and prove myself wrong. If the candidate is great right off the bat, I try to find the red flags. If they tank this question, I try to cess out that maybe it was nerves or maybe there are some other qualities that will absolutely blow me away and make their lack of preparation and/or judgement okay.

It hasn’t happened yet.