My Favorite Interview Question

 In communication, perspective, Wednesday Wisdom

Use this great question wrap up an interview.

There is one piece of data I wish I’d kept track of since the beginning of my professional career: the number of interviews I’ve conducted with candidates seeking employment. Regardless of my title, recruiting and participating in interviews have been a part of my job in every organization. At 20+ years in the field, that’s a decent number of interviews. More than the actual number, I wish I would have taken notes about people and their stories. There are some interesting people in this world. And I don’t say “interesting” sarcastically. Lots of people have lived remarkable lives, and sometimes they are able to weave their stories in the dialogue of the interview and share their fascinating perspective.

An interview typically structures questions around the position the organization is trying to fill. And if there is more than one person interviewing (e.g., a team approach), there is likely some strategy around who will exchange what information with the candidate. This is good and necessary and allows the organization to evaluate candidates with some degree of reliability and consistency.

In my experience, MOST candidates have prepared (or at least thought about) the answers to the typical interview questions around strengths, goals, previous positions, etc. Again, this is not a bad thing. But I also think the most effective interviews turn into a dialogue. Instead of a barrage of questions that contain right or wrong answers, skilled interviewers make it a conversation around fit. If the interview process is successful, both sides determine if it’s a good match or not.

Regardless of the formal structure of the process, I urge you to ask one more question before you end the time with your candidate. Ask this:

What’s one thing you want me to know about you that I/we didn’t ask you about?

This question provides the candidate an opportunity to share something important to him/her that wasn’t already addressed in the previous dialogue. For example, maybe the candidate is an Olympic medal winner. Maybe he/she has a unique side business, a rare hobby, or an exceptional talent. Engaging in continued dialogue helps form an authentic connection with the candidate.

If you or your organization are sensitive to the lack of structure to this question, add “from your resume” to ensure the answer will be position-related. Ask:

What’s one thing from your resume you want me to know about you that I/we didn’t ask you about?

If you are a seasoned interviewer and have your question pattern established, or if you’re new to the interview process, I encourage you to end the interview with one of these questions. Providing a candidate the chance to share a unique data point or perspective opens up an opportunity for a deeper discussion and connection and more accurately determine that candidate’s fit with your organization.

 

What’s your favorite interview question?

 

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