I’m about to give you one of the greatest interview questions you can ever ask. With one simple query, you can glean insight into the candidate’s personality, values, tastes, background, decision making ability and so much more. Almost instantly, you’ll strip away all the bull and get a good, solid look right into the person’s soul.
Are you ready? Here it is:
“What is your favorite movie of all time?”
I’m not being cheeky or suggesting you hire someone based on whether or not they like Dumb & Dumber. Let me explain:
People come into interviews ready to answer run of the mill interview questions. They’ve likely rehearsed their responses to all the standard scenarios or cliché questions, meaning you don’t learn much more than the fact they’re good at preparing for interviews.
But toss in an oddball, unexpected inquiry like this, and the applicant is forced to go off script and answer on the fly. The answer is almost inconsequential (although you could make a case for immediately disqualifying anyone that mentions Gigli). It’s the person’s reaction, thought process and level of comfort at dealing with the unexpected you should be studying.
Unconventional is certainly one way you could describe my interview questions. It’s what I strive for, a balance between finding out what I need to know about the person and seeing how they react to unexpected situations.
I will ask two or three ‘traditional’ questions about a person’s job history. Then hit them with something way out of left field, like, “Why have you always let people tell you what to do?”
It’s a great question in two ways. One, I really do want to know why this person has never sought a position of leadership before.
And two, it’s admittedly a little harsh and wholly unexpected, and the way the person answers will tell me so much. Do they get angry and defensive? Do they stay calm and explain the situation? Do they stammer and talk in circles? You want confident, level-headed employees that can capably deal with crisis and unanticipated situations. No better place to find them than in the interview room.
So get them to tell you about the time they disagreed with a customer and how they handled it. Ask them to list their top three workplace accomplishments. They’re great, tried and true interview questions. But don’t forget to dig into your bag of tricks and keep them off balance. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn.
Besides, do you really want to hire someone who thinks “Twilight” is the best movie of all time?