Steve wouldn’t ask if you had some ideas that might be of value or some crucial talents that might be helpful. He would just leave the door open to see if you came forth with anything that made sense. That’s why people came away feeling they had had a conversation with him instead of having been interviewed: He didn’t ask, “What can you do for me?” He just gave people the opportunity to speak up, so he could judge whether it sounded as if they could offer a contribution to the project and the team.
The unspoken questions were, “What is the talent you bring?” and “What do I see that says you can go beyond and become a valuable contributor, an innovator?”
I met a man years later who had been interviewed by Steve, who complained to me at the time about the way he had been treated. It turned out that he had gotten off on the wrong foot right from the start by showing up in a three-piece business suit—revealing at a glance that he hadn’t taken the trouble to find out anything about the Apple culture. Then the man wanted to show Steve a piece of work he was proud of, which he had brought with him on his computer. He reached into his briefcase and pulled out a Dell laptop. The interview was over the instant Steve saw the Dell.