Bill Gates is a billionaire and a tech icon, so it’s unlikely that the world’s second-wealthiest person will need to interview for a new job anytime soon.
However, thanks to two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, we now know how Gates would answer a few basic job interview questions, including asking Gates to describe his strengths and weaknesses and to lay out the billionaire’s salary expectations.
On Tuesday, Curry posted his YouTube interview of the Microsoft co-founder as the first part of the basketball player’s new video series, called “State of Inspiration” (future installments will feature chats with leaders such as infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and politician Stacey Abrams).
“I don’t know when the last time [was] that you’ve done a job interview,” Curry tells Gates, before pointing out that “a lot of kids,” including recent college graduates, are trying to enter the workforce for the first time in what Curry describes as an extremely “uncertain market” amid a recession and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“We want to give them a little advice on answering those typical job interview questions that are important in terms of trying to set up your future,” Curry tells Gates before asking the former Microsoft CEO to imagine he’s a young person interviewing for a job as a junior software engineer with Microsoft.
Noting that “we Googled the top 10 interview questions,” Curry lobs a few of the generic job interview queries to Gates, starting with: “‘Why should we hire you?'”
Gates kicks off the interview by touting the software programming skills he taught himself as a teenager in Seattle (where he met his future Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen) and in his free time during his less than two years at Harvard. Gates dropped out of Harvard during his sophomore year before starting Microsoft at 20 years old. (Gates and Allen also both worked as computer programmers for software company Honeywell during the summer after his freshman year at Harvard.)
“I’m kind of crazy. I write software programs way beyond any classes that I’ve taken, and I think I’ve gotten better over time. So take a look at how ambitious I’ve been there,” Gates tells his hypothetical interviewer.
Gates also notes that he thinks he “can work well with people — I might criticize their code a little harshly.” (The billionaire has admitted that he was often “tough on people I worked with” while at Microsoft, but he recently said he “never asked [Microsoft employees] to work any harder, or be tougher on their mistakes, than I was on myself.”)
“But, overall, I like to be on a team,” Gates tells Curry. “I like ambitious goals. I like thinking through how we can anticipate the future. Software is cool and I want to be a part of that.”
Curry then asks Gates to describe some of his strengths and weaknesses.
“I’m not somebody who knows a lot about marketing. I wouldn’t enjoy being a salesman,” Gates says.
Gates, who led Microsoft’s product strategy for roughly three decades and developed products such as the Windows software suite, makes it clear that his strengths lie more in “product definition [and] product creation.”
“If you have a team that understands the customers, the sales, the marketing — I’m not going to bring that, but I’d enjoy working with them,” Gates says.
Finally, Curry acknowledges the “uncertainty” across most industries amid the pandemic when asking Gates what his “salary expectations for this job” would be.
With a chuckle, Gates (whose net worth is currently estimated at $127 billion by Bloomberg) tells Curry that he’s most interested in receiving a strong package of stock options in his compensation, explaining that is way of betting on himself and the company’s success.
“I hope the option package is good. I’m able to take risk and I think the company has a great future. So, I’d prefer to get stock options even more than cash compensation. I hear some other companies are paying a lot, but treat me fairly and emphasize the options.”
Curry thanks Gates for participating in the “fun experiment,” and he believes Gates’ answers can help give young job-seekers an idea of how “you can come into those situations confidently [and] speak about your strengths in a way that [shows] you have a lot to learn and a lot to offer to your future company.”
Of course, the job that Gates is best known for is one that didn’t require a job interview, because he created it for himself, as the co-founder and CEO of Microsoft. But, Gates is never one to shy away from offering advice to recent college graduates.
In the past, Gates has offered up advice on such topics as the book that every college graduate should read (“The Better Angels of Our Nature,” Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker’s exploration of the history of violence in society), as well as how to determine what you should do with your life (by focusing on “whatever you obsessed over from age 12 to 18”).
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