Dear Ask Boz,
I am doing a significant amount of hiring new people at work. What two questions do you feel are most impactful in understanding a person in an interview?
Great timing on this question, Andy. Workers have their choice of so many jobs now, so getting the right fit for your company is harder than ever. That’s why I would skip the classics like “What’s your biggest weakness?” or “Why do you want to work here?” The interviewee is totally prepared for those questions. If you really want to find out that they have what it takes, there is only one solution: confuse them. The way to do this? Ask questions that don’t make sense.
I like to start with “How you at?” This question asks for both state of being AND location. If their answer is only about one or the other, stop the interview and call security to escort them out*. However, if their answer is something like “I am doing well on this plane of existence and in this specific location,” keep the interview going.
If they actually have the courage to say “That’s just nonsense,” then hire them on the spot.
Next, transform a classic by asking “What particular strength is your greatest weakness?” Most will hear it as the typical question about strength OR weakness, and blather on how being a perfectionist has held them back. But if they’re smart, they’ll say something like, “I’m so committed to work that I will ruin the other parts of my life by toiling for insanely long hours and never ask for a raise.” If this is their answer, let them know that they will have access to a human sized hamster feeder at their work station, which allows them to simply press a button for their water and kibble!
These two questions will guarantee out of the box thinkers, and provide hours of fun!
*I do this whenever I can. It’s just fun!