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imo, it's all very well saying Bill Gates, Nelson Mandella, Richard Branson etc, however there has to be some substance behind the whole choice.
as for me, I'm still stumped ...
I suppose the company WANTS you to say Winston Churchill or Ghandi or some such being. Unfortunately for the company, a hero is someone different to everyone, someone who has had a profound impact on your life. So that person could be a friend, relative, gyno...whomever. Your hero will likely be someone they don't know. However, if you provide a real answer ("My brother who died fighting in ____ for our country.") and can back it up, you will probably be better off cause the answer will be genuine.
I know. I'm not much help...
However, you can still admire the contribution of someone in a particular field, or appreciate the contribution that someone may have had on your life of career. For example, in the computing field, you can admire the extraordinary talent and contribution of Alan Turing. If you're talking about e-commerce, would any of it have been possible without the work by Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman?
But perhaps most of all, if you are to have a hero they should be inspirational or have had a profound impact on your life. I agree with AWildman that the person may well be someone unknown to others.
Not my only hero, of course, but an unsung one certain to intrigue.
Open-ended questions like this can be very revealing indeed... trouble is, many Human Resource types aren't creative enough to really ask the right questions (unless someone else writes them) and worse, aren't deep enough to really utilize the answers fully.
As someone who has sat on both sides of the job interview desk, I know they have to do something... both people and companies are great at painting a rosy picture during the interview, and it is an exacting game to discern subtle clues from a necessarily small sample.
When I was between three and five
my hero was my oldest brother who used to carry me on his shoulders.
When I was six thru eight
my hero was the school bus driver
having grown up on a dirt farm he was the only person who made a living by not
digging in the dirt.
When I was nine to ten
my hero was my oldest brother who had just came back from fighting in World II in Europe.
When I was eleven
my heroine was my fourth grade teacher who cause me to realize for the first time in my
life (60 years ago) that I wasn't actually a stupid person.
After many years many heros and heroines was come and gone in my life
but after all this time I still pick up the phone and call my fourth grade teacher long
distance because she cause me to believe in my ability to learn.
I really do belive that if the British Govt of the day had felt bound by his promises, which he had their authority to make, the middle east would be a much more peaceful place today.
A truly great man, second only to myself.
There was a great Ken Burns PBS thing on the history of radio that featured DeForest prominently. Very interesting stuff if you have not seen it and you are into 20th century history.
The first jazz artist on the cover of TIME, the first jazz single to sell 1M copies. A vocal supporter of the civil rights movement & political activist.
I met him two years ago, at a festval in Toronto. Not only immensely talented (and still touring in his 80s) but also an utterly charming gentleman.