With the right questions, there’s a lot you can tell about a candidate in just half an hour.
Job interviews can be really unpleasant for interviewers and candidates alike. A 30-minute chat sandwiched between a busy hiring manager’s afternoon meetings isn’t always the best way to get to know somebody, let alone judge their fit for an open role.
But over my past few years in the hiring seat, I’ve developed a set of five go-to questions that are easy to ask within the space of a half hour and still lead to revealing answers. Together, they give me a pretty comprehensive idea of who an individual is, how well they know their craft, how quick they are on their feet, and whether I’d be happy to see them every day.
And over time, I’ve found that asking this same set of questions has helped me get a sense for how everyone is performing against the same criteria, which means I can make apples-to-apples comparisons. The people who knock their job interviews out of the park are invariably the ones we hire, and who go on to thrive. Here are the five questions I always ask:
- WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST CAREER HIT AND THE ROLE YOU PLAYED IN IT?
Why it works: This question allows you to get a sense of the individual’s working process, whether they can lead and contribute, and how enthusiastic they are. It also lets you know their perception of quality. They might choose to talk about a student project (if they’re just starting out), a global integrated campaign, or a startup that they founded or contributed to.
I tend to spend the most amount of time digging into a candidate’s answer to this question–usually I’ll allot 10 minutes to discussing it, whereas the subsequent four only take five minutes apiece–probing for the specifics, and pulling up the work they’re talking about on the internet.
- HOW YOUR DISCIPLINE IS CHANGING? WHAT’S ONE COMPANY THAT’S ADAPTING WELL?
Why it works: The world is changing quickly, and we want people who understand and embrace new opportunities.
- WHAT’S THE LAST THING YOU READ, SAW, OR LISTENED TO THAT YOU WANTED TO TELL SOMEONE ABOUT?
Why it works: I look for curiosity. I legitimately don’t care if the answer is Game of Thrones, as long as they have an interesting take and an ability to communicate it clearly.
- WHAT’S A CURRENT CULTURAL PHENOMENON YOU WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH?
Why it works: Because we want them to have opinions and not be afraid to express them.
- WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN?
Why it works: Because we work hard, and maintaining a life outside of it is important. I want to hear how they stay grounded and what makes them happy.
Have a great day!
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