This post is part of a series, “The One Thing,” where I ask today’s successful leaders to identify the single most important lesson they’ve learned on a given topic.
Recruiting the best talent is critical to the lifeblood of any organization but identifying whether a potential new hire will flourish versus flounder within a career opportunity is always challenging. Whether you’re looking to pinpoint sought-after skills or to tap into intangibles such as ambition, creativity, or vision, asking the right questions in an interview can reveal if a candidate’s going to be a valuable contributor and a fit with company culture. In this high stakes process, how do you avoid eliciting the same canned responses and what are the best ways to spot major red flags before making the final offer? We asked five power women to weigh in with their must-ask question in every job interview and what they hope to hear.
What’s “The One Thing” You Ask Every Potential Employee?
Describe Your Best Day At Work
Think back to your very best day at work – that day you went home thinking, “I have the best job in the world. I love what I do.” What did you do that day? That’s the question I ask candidates. At Facebook, we know when you’re doing work you enjoy, you’ll be happier and more engaged – and will perform at the top of your game. We are a strengths-based company: we want every person to thrive in their role. So before you even join, we try to discover your true strengths – and how you play to them. Which activities help you achieve a state of “flow?” If you think about your very best day, you’ll know the answer.
Lori Goler is the Vice President of People at Facebook.
What’s The Scariest Thing You’ve Ever Done?
In any creative business (like mine) you’re taking risk every day. The very nature of creativity is coming up with things that have never been tried before. To succeed, you need to believe that risk-taking is exciting — you have to want to run into it, not away from it.
So I look for light in the eyes when people to talk about the scary things they’ve done. When someone can’t even answer this question (which happens often) I think, “This is not the right business for you!”
Shelly Lazarus serves as the Chairman Emeritus at Olgivy & Mather.
Tell Me About the Last Customer Experience You Loved and Why
It can be anything: an advertisement, product packaging, an interaction with a retail associate, a great web experience. We are looking for people who have great intuition and obsess over the details, but who also have an opinion and a point of view. In my view, one of the few things you cannot teach is creative judgment. You can teach just about anything else, but the folks who have great creative judgment—and you really know it when you see it—are few and far between. For all the principles and guidebooks and frameworks in the world, none of it is worth anything without gut instinct and an absolute unwillingness to settle for “good enough.”
Lorraine Twohill is the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at Google.
As CEO, I talk to a large number of employees on a regular basis. Sometimes I’ll get a sense of a person immediately – and an intuitive connection kicks in, but other times I can spend an hour chatting and still not know if the person will succeed in our environment.
For me what is most important is if the person has a future-oriented perspective. It’s great to be an expert and rank at the top in your field, but expertise today will be outdated tomorrow. The question I ask is: what do you think is next? What is just over the horizon? Change and continuous learning are going to be part of our world going forward. I need to know if this person will embrace this forward-thinking.
It takes a certain type of person to be bold enough to know what you don’t know and be confident enough to admit it. I’m looking for someone who is ambitious enough to challenge what we do today to get to a leadership position tomorrow.
Experience is invaluable, but equally important is the ability to be curious and hungry in order to embrace the challenges of what’s next.
Kathy Bloomgarden serves as the CEO of Ruder Finn.
What Makes You Proud?
Whether you worked nights to put yourself through college, donated your time to a local charity or earned a top award at work or school – when interviewing a potential candidate, I’m eager to learn what makes you most proud. Although many people tend to focus on work and school achievements; personal achievements can be just as important.
The best way to answer this question is to be candid and share one significant accomplishment and explain how it personally impacted you, helped you overcome a hurdle or checked a big box on your personal goal list. I find that when I ask this question it can lead to a deeper, more engaging conversation and reveals a lot about an individual’s authentic character. For example, it shines a light on levels of enthusiasm, what type of environment an individual might thrive in, as well as key teaming skills. Also, when considering what to share, don’t get caught up trying to attach a number to your answer. True success isn’t measured solely by metrics, but rather by notable accomplishments that have given you a sense of passion, satisfaction and pride.
Karyn Twaronite is the EY Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer.
More From ‘The One Thing’ Series
This article was written by Moira Forbes from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.