Every now and then people come out to have lunch with us. I feel there is no free lunch so to speak, so they should be put on the spot. I have started asking some combination of the following:
1. What do you maximize?
2. Can you offer a simple model of yourself, using one a few equations or a paragraph or less?
3. What is it you hate? (NB: My colleague Bryan C. suggests there are fine but important distinctions between hating, despising, mocking, and scorning. I might add that I am not much of a hater. More generally, many people’s hates are only "pretend hates," and what they hate is perhaps the fact that they don’t really hate their stated hates at all. But I will settle for a "pretend hate" answer to this question.)
4. What is your most absurd view?
Many people find these questions difficult or disconcerting. Especially the third one. I’ll even say "Can’t you just make something up?" Or "I’ll settle for a lie!"