The ultimate interview question: “If you were a G1 Transformer which would you be and why?” (aka – the impact of early experiences on workplace behaviour)

A few weeks back, I updated my LinkedIn profile with a video introduction to my page. Within the video I mentioned that my LinkedIn job history is not all of my work history. I felt this was important to mention given my first listed job, my first post-undergrad office job, was at a law firm and it could be presumed (incorrectly) that I must have got “an in” thanks to family, friends, etc.

As we all know nepotism is rife, especially in the UK. Therefore, I made the point on the video that I had plenty of experience earlier to try and hint at my background. There are of course more formal ways to classify your background that you could include, e.g. child of a parent who had grown up in social housing, first generation university goer, etc. I could have included earlier jobs such as fish factory operative, burger flipper, barman, etc. all of which would also suggest how I have worked a variety of jobs to pay for travel, study, rent, etc. before that first office job.

Part of the reason I do not include my full job listing is that the range of mostly minimum wage jobs I had in my teens and early 20s (if memory serves my first hourly wage was £1.14) probably don’t add much to my current knowledge and skills. Indeed most of us will not list all our “professional” roles on CVs once we are past a certain point (aka I’m too old to still do that) and you try to tailor to the advert.

However, perhaps we should all be transparent on LinkedIn as the formative experiences will impact our behaviours and expectations more than we might like to admit? For example, I would argue my experience gives me a perspective and influences my behaviour differently to someone who, say, grew up at the extremes of poverty or extreme wealth.

This also got me thinking:

What other early experiences have heavily influenced my personal outlook on mentality and behaviours?

me

Now having a bit of fun...

The obvious answer to this question was watching “The Transformers”, perhaps my favourite childhood cartoon, comic, game series, toy, etc. After a quick Google it does not look like anyone has ever tried to take Transformers and create a model for workplace behaviours, so here we go…”If you were a G1 Transformer which would you be and why?”

Why it is a great question

The question, or one like it, would help reveal someone’s cultural zietgeist, and therefore (arguably) if they will be a good “fit” in an organisation. The candidate’s actual choice of character/transformer would highlight quite a lot about their personality given the very broad brush approach to character stereotyping in the series.

Reflections on some of the possible answers

Warning *spoilers* for the Transformers series ahead, obvs, and apologies in advance for any misremembering of details on my part.

1. Optimus Prime

Who? Leader of “The heroic Autobots”.

A good answer? The obvious answer to the question, not least as this is the name most likely known by non-fans, losing the candidate points for originality at least. Suggests a desire to lead but also a risk of a holier-than-thou mentality which may damage team dynamics.

Candidate might say: “When push comes to shove I put the team before myself”.

2. Jazz

Famous for, amongst other things, using his car radio so loud it becomes a weapon.

Candidate is likely trying to suggest they have a fun side, they might actually be admitting to being the kind of person who tries to get you to meet their boy-racer mates in the Aldi/McDonalds car park after work.

“I am really fun around the office”.

3. Blurr

One of the G1 robots introduced in The Movie. Blurr operates at high speed.

This answer suggests a high capacity for work, without a drop in quality. However, the candidate might be at risk of underestimating the complexities of the role. In reality a person pertaining to be like Blurr is at risk of burnout, if acting like Blurr they are a drug addict.

“I can help. I wanna help…Nobody can get the job done faster than I can” (excerpt from Blurr’s actual opening lines).

4. Perceptor

Originally stuck in microscope(?) mode following the Transformers crash on Earth, Perceptor is an intelligent member of the Autobots.

If the candidate is after a science/lab job this is a fine answer. Perceptor even suggests he is willing to sacrifice himself for a colleague once he can walk/fight in The Movie so goes beyond ‘science nerd’ stereotypes.

“My major weakness? I am probably too analytical and data driven”.

5. Blaster

Introduced as the Autobot tape deck robot (the tapes transform to smaller robots) to counter one of the original Deceptions (Soundwave) who had similar capabilities.

If looking for someone who wants to work in music/media editing this is another decent answer. Might suggest they literally live through music – perhaps the kind of office worker who ends up having to have their own office as even with headphones on their music is too loud.

“I have developed leadership qualities as the lead singer of my 80s synth band”.

6. Soundwave

As I mentioned him in #5 let’s move to our first Deception (bad guy/heel) entry. Soundwave is effectively 2nd in command, at least when on Earth, to Deception leader Megatron.

Soundwave would be a curious choice. Criticised in The Movie as “an uncharismatic bore” the candidate is likely hoping to suggest they are a strong number 2, a Spock to your Kirk perhaps. Perhaps not a bad choice for a COO or regional manager.

“Really I have two strongest strengths; I am very efficient at delegation and all my former bosses would say I am very loyal”.

7. Megatron

We jump to the top bad guy. Perhaps the robot with the most name recognition after Optimus Prime?

Megatron might be the choice for someone who is keen to shake things up and cut the deadwood. Perhaps the ideal mentality for a cost-cutting consultant or if your culture is (curiously) based around power/fear.

“Death to all traitors (who are not living the corporate values)”.

8. Starscream

Starscream, right from the first episode of the cartoon, is after Megatron’s job. In The Movie he finally manages to reach the top, briefly. He even gets a nice crown (see video).

Not the choice to go for if you want to suggest you are loyal. However, you could perhaps make a good case for ‘being a Starscream’ if you are suggesting you are strong at managing up and keeping leaders from becoming complacent.

“In 20 years’ time you say? I see myself sat where you are in 2”.

C64 Hound - I loved this game!

9. Hound

Hound is a scout for the Autobots whose vehicle mode is a jeep and is 100% included in the list so I could use a gif from the C64 video game.

Hound is a fairly middle of the road choice but would allow someone to make the point they enjoy the countryside. Potentially a very good option for someone wanting to stress their love of nature. Hound can also project holograms, a skill reference that could be a deep cut for anyone working in that area (or just remote work more generally).

“I am bored of office life and have always wanted to work outside”.

10. Unicron

A “monster planet” that can destroy whole planetary systems at ease. Famously Orson Welles’ final role was voicing this main villain of The Movie.

As a destroyer of worlds, perhaps the option if you are interviewing at an organisation with a known really terrible culture.

“Greed is good”.

Finally, why the question in the post’s title is obviously not a great question

The question is highly reliant on (most likely non-work relevant) pre-existing knowledge. “G1” means “Generation 1”, i.e. the original iteration of the toys, comics and cartoons under the Transformers brand. By Transformer I mean “The Transformers”, not something to do with electricity or transforming in another context.

The ability to answer the question is also highly cultural and potentially age/sexist given you would likely need to be of a certain age in the 1980s to even know what it means never mind answer it in a meaningful way.

Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader (I.gardner.gb) and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

One thought on “The ultimate interview question: “If you were a G1 Transformer which would you be and why?” (aka – the impact of early experiences on workplace behaviour)”

  1. This post had been in my drafts for a while before I got round to publishing this morning.

    Yesterday I came across what I think is a new word for me: intersectionality. Reading a bit about this reminded me to post the Transformers fun post. Intersectionality looks a very useful way to consider all the ways we are different and how we should not be marginalised as a result of class, gender, disability, ethnicity, etc.

    Good article/intro on intersectionality: https://www.womankind.org.uk/intersectionality-101-what-is-it-and-why-is-it-important/

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