Tim Cook’s secret weapon for job interviews: Silence

“Steve Jobs could be pretty forthright, even abrasive, in interviews with prospective new employees,” Luke Dormehl reports for Cult of Mac. “Tim Cook, on the other hand? It’s all about the power of silence.”

“In a new interview to promote her book Radical Candor: Be A Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, former Apple and Google employee Kim Scott reveals what it’s like to interview with Apple’s CEO,” Dormehl reports, “and how she was saved from talking herself out of a job.”

Dormehl reports, “‘Tim Cook is what I call a quiet listener,’ Scott said. ‘When I interviewed at Apple, somebody warned me, ‘‘Tim is extremely quiet. Don’t let it unnerve you.””

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Once, one of us had aced the interview and we just knew the job was ours (not at Apple; at a very large TV station), but the interviewer closed with “Tell me a joke.”

Caught off-guard, he had nothing. Well, didn’t get that job! (It worked out for the best anyway.) 🙂

Afterwards, our hapless interviewee used that line to close every job interview he conducted, too. The response to “Tell me a joke” is quite revealing.

Do you have any good interview stories?


  1. I always ask why I should work for the company that’s interviewing me. Why should I move to work for them? As I see it, the company are not interviewing me to be a puppet but want me to make it a better place to work.

    I’m 39 and in a great job I love. Say no more.

  2. I can never get hired by Tim Cook. I can just see it now “Oh the old silent treatment eh? Well if you’re going to just sit there like a lump move over and let me show you some of the things about macOS that really tick me off. Hey this is a real iMac?!? It’s one of those fake movie or furniture store props!

    1. Wow… “silent Cal”. I haven’t heard that reference in years. While I’m not old enough to remember silent Cal’s presidency ((hey, I’m old and nearly ancient, but not truly ancient yet)), my parents did. They both claimed the name was very appropriate. He wasn’t a bad president, but he mostly went with the flow of the roaring 20s and prohibition.

      1. I had to read up on Calvin Coolidge too. Very passive. So the roaring 20s were all great until people woke up and realized that years of lax regulation created insane levels of corruption, inequity, and an unprecedented economic bubble. Worse, it sowed the seeds of extremist nationalist xenophobia and militarism that would tear the world apart by 1939. Here we go again!

  3. My Ph.D adviser did that. We called it the Pregnant Pause. He would just look at you and smile and after a while you had to say something and it was usually stupid.

    1. It’s also a well proven technique during television interviews. You start somebody off talking about the chosen subject and there often comes a point where they get close to the contentious part of the topic and then they pause.

      Inexperienced interviewers will then ask the next question on their list, while the more experienced interviewers will say nothing, but maybe raise a quizzical eyebrow. The interviewee will often resume talking, going further into the area where they were feeling somewhat uncomfortable.

      Whenever I notice that happening, I see it as an indication that the interviewer has a good understanding of people and how the human mind works.

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