Your goal in any interview is to gain insight into the candidate. The candidate’s goal in any interview is to spotlight the characteristics they believe you need and want. You unfortunately are at a disadvantage. The candidate has the internet, an endless living encyclopedia often supplemented by recruiters and career placement services which are designed to prepare someone for all of the usual questions traditionally used in interviews.
So you need to get creative with your questions. I’m not talking about the silly stuff like – “What would you do if you were a fish?” Great interview questions need to open windows into someone worth looking through. There are 5 questions I take into every interview which almost none of the thousands of folks I interviewed over the years ever heard before. These questions are complex – have a long windup on purpose so the candidate can think and get ready to respond. The answers are expected to be long, almost story in character and rich in opportunities for follow up comments or questions.
Check out the video below to see how one of those questions – Students of Winners – is delivered and responded to in a real life interview situation. You would be amazed at the spectrum of answers I have heard over the years, but in every case it was an insightful glimpse into someone.
Question 1 – Student of Winners
Sometimes I share an example of a winner I have studied. “Michael Jordan to me was a winner and what made him so was not his talent, but his drive to prepare and outwork everyone around him before the game even started. It was also his absolute intolerance of anyone around him who did not bring it all every minute of every game. He was not loved, and he did not care about being loved. He cared about winning.”
Write down the people who are brought up and the characteristics they try to spotlight. Know they will struggle with the question, so help them shine the spotlight clearly on characteristics they are trying to describe. It’s great if you can get 3 or 4 examples, particularly if the first person they mention is Dad. But it’s fascinating to see who they pick and why they believe those folks are winners and what characteristics drive them towards the winning result.
The folks who gave great answers and made it through the hiring process showed me the window was a good one in terms of what to expect. I bet if you try that question in your next interview you will enjoy the view. Then send us a quick email asking for the 4 other killer questions we can share that will open up even better windows for you in your next interview.