I love the Corner Office column in the Sunday New York Times. Adam Bryant interviews CEO’s of companies of various sizes. One of the key questions he asks is “How do you hire?” They all assume you have the competence to get this far. They want to know more about you. One CEO called it the 3 A’s – aptitude, attitude, and appetite. The first 2 are common but the last is often overlooked – how hungry are you for this opportunity and will you fit our team.
As you read these unusual interview questions, think of your own answers. Could you get hired?
1. I ask them about their social situation, family situations, what motivated them and how they like to work with other people. Is there a hunger, an intellectual curiosity? I take them on a tour and see how they interact with the people. I look for relationship skills and a positive attitude. Sometimes I ask them to spend a day with us. I send a schedule but when they get here I switch it, I want to see how they react because that’s life. You get thrown curveballs. Michael J. Dowling
2. I like to look at transitions between jobs. How did the person pop their head up and say “this isn’t working for me.” Either they got fired or something else but I want the real story. If they talk about the problem at a previous company, I want to understand if they were a part of the solution or just complaining. I’m interested in people who want to build something great rather than joining something great. Aaron Bell
3. I’m mostly concerned with the kind of person they are, their character. I’ll ask “Tell me the greatest success in your life.” Does their view of the world revolve around them or others? And their greatest failure. Do they own them or were someone else’s fault? I may meet them for breakfast and secretly ask the waiter to mess up their order to see how they react. It helps to see how they deal with adversity. It helps me see into their heart not just their head. We all make mistakes. The question is how we recover and are we respectful to others then they make them. Walt Bettinger
4. We have a small company so we need people who are resourceful and can solve problems. I like to hear that people played on teams because they know they play a role that’s for the greater good of the team. I want to make sure they have a point of view or perspective not just about my company but in life. I’ll ask what they do in their downtime. And go deeper. If it’s to museums, what art and specific artists do they like, and why. What games do they like? It gives me a view of how they think. What environment do they like to be in? How do you deal with failure or obstacles? Tricia Clarke-Stone
5. “Why are leaving your current job and why are you coming here?” You want to be sure someone isn’t running away from something, that they’re coming here for the right reasons. I want to know they can build teams. Do they have a following? How many people have followed them from one job to the next? Mary Keane
6. I want someone who’s really smart but also driven and can work with people. I ask candidates to tell me stories about themselves and their experiences when dealt challenges. I want to know who their favorite boss was and why. That goes a long way in telling me if this is the right place for them and how committed they are. Liz Rodbell
7. “Walk me through your resume, particularly why you changed jobs.” I want to hear their thought process. What’s your biggest strength and weakness? If they don’t say, I’ll tell them mine. Then I’ll ask again “What are you genuinely bad at?” I’m not going to discredit someone for having weaknesses. We all have them. It is a problem if they are not aware of them. I want to be able to harness a candidate’s strengths. Last thing I ask “What gets you out of bed? What gets you excited?” Alexa von Tobel
8. I think of hiring on 3 levels. First, I want to know their values. Are they a team player? Are they an egomaniac? Will they help their colleagues succeed? Next, I test for willingness to learn – and grow and adapt. Last, I look at their technical capabilities. If I can get the first 2 right, I can teach the third. I’ll also ask how they get things done. I listen for “I’s” versus “we’s.” Did they engage across the organization? Mary A. Laschinger
9. One question I ask about 10 minutes into the interview “What did you learn from your mom?” It’s an incredibly powerful question. It gives me insight into their emotions. It shows me how human they are ready to be with me. Then I’ll ask about their dad. I ask about mistakes they’ve made. Lars Dalgaard
10. I ask people what magazines and books they’re recently read and what they do in their spare time to get a sense of what motivates them. It answers whether they are investing in themselves. And care about their own development to make themselves better at something. Cesar Melgoza
11. I start by asking how they grew up, what was influential in their life, what their parents do and what they’re really passionate about. Then I ask “What do you want to be known for, what mark do you want to leave?” I want to see if they have a deep well of passion. I also ask “What’s your superpower?” It’s all about do you care about our mission, do you have a fierce work ethic, are you a good person others want to be around? That’s what I try to tease out. The other important thing is adaptability and whether you can let things roll off your back. You have to see opportunities more than obstacles. And if you offer them constructive criticism, they need to see if with curiosity and open mindedness not defensive. Jessica Herrin
How’d you do? Did your answers come easily? It’s all how you genuinely tell your story. I’ve written about how important that is several times. Check these posts for more. And read the Corner Office in the New York Times. If you’d like help building your story, contact me at www.YourNextChapterNOW.com
Diane, The Midlife Woman’s Career Coach
Diane Howell Topkis is the author of the Career Clarity ebook series. Diane works with midlife women to gain the clarity and confidence to reinvent or re-energize their career into meaningful work for their next chapter. Please visit www.YourNextChapterNOW.com to receive your free workbook Find Your Career Passion.
In her non-work time, Diane wrote three Tasting Journals to take on her weekend and vacation tasting adventures – Wine Travels, Craft Spirits and Craft Beer. They are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.