The Best Interview Question

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There are hundreds, maybe thousands of great interview questions. The classics, like as “Tell me about yourself,” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” The answers to the questions give some insight into a candidate.

The recruiting process—posting jobs online or in the newspaper, checking references, pre-employment testing—is pretty standard. If you ask the right questions in an interview, you can get to the real heart of a candidate. You can plow through the customized resume and perfectly-crafted cover letter and determine if the candidate is really the best one for the job.

What questions are the best? What questions do senior managers use after the candidate has gone through the preliminary interviews with Human Resources, mid-managers and co-workers? Are there any left? Three different executives weighed in on their favorite interview questions. Use them for that final interview or to break a tie between equally qualified candidates.

One question saved for last was shared in an article in Yahoo Business. CEOs and General Managers aren’t interested in what you think are your strengths and weaknesses. This CEO wants to know, “How will you make my company better?” “How will you make me better?” Every company is different. You may have been a superstar at your last job, but how are you going to add value to this company? As this CEO puts it, if the candidate doesn’t have an answer, no job.

Lou Adler, author and top recruiter, has his own top interview question. This one is less personal and more quantitative. “What single task or project would you consider the most significant accomplishment of your career so far?” To answer it, a candidate has to mentally sift through all the accomplishments on her resume and choose the most significant. The choice tells how the candidate regards her projects and results and why she feels this is the most important. Did the candidate choose the same one the CEO would consider most important? Of course, the interviewer should already have their best answer drawn from the candidate’s resume. The perfect follow on is, Why? Of all the candidate has done, why is this one the best so far? The next question could be, " will you top that if you are selected for the position?” How much does the candidate know about your company, its mission, goals? And have they really thought about how they can make a difference?

JJ Ramberg, MSNBC host, shared her best interview question in an interview. “Will you be comfortable putting together an IKEA bookcase?” It’s first a legitimate question, because in her career, they moved offices so many times, everyone has had a chance to help move and set up the new offices. No, the candidate isn’t interviewing for a facilities or maintenance job. This question reveals a lot about what a candidate is willing to do. Are they someone who doesn’t want to get his hands dirty? Feels that type of work is below him? Isn’t the type of person to jump in and do whatever it takes to get the job done? Flexibility is a key in today’s workplace. It also reveals if the candidate is willing to work in an environment without a hierarchy. If he is more concerned about his title and if his office has a window, he may not be a good culture fit.

Use these three questions to break a tie or probe deeper into a candidates true motivations. Just getting a thoughtful answer shows a candidate is willing to take a risk and may be the best person for the job.

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