The Fortune 500 Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question to: “What’s the most important question to ask job candidates in an interview and why?” is written by Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch New York.
There is no one question a candidate can answer that will seal the deal and show me how they will approach a job. It’s how they answer a series of questions; how they tell the story of their own career experience and the questions they ask in return that show me what someone will bring to the table.
One way I like to start off with is to ask candidates: "Tell me your story.” I don’t like to read their resume and just infer a story – I want to hear someone lay out and share their own narrative with me: what they love; how they’ve tackled challenges with an out-of-the-box approach; what’s led them to sit at my desk and ask for this job. I’m hoping to uncover their sense of curiosity, their passion – two non-negotiable qualities at a company like ours.
By the time someone has reached my office, their skill set is not the question. They have already established themselves as a candidate with the talent and experience necessary to do the job – I’m not looking to see if they can handle a role; I’m looking to see how they will handle it: do they approach every challenge with the same linear thinking, using mainstream methods time after time? Or are they rolling with the punches, letting outside influences pique their curiosity and drive them to unearth fresh solutions to every hurdle they face?
I want to understand how their brains work; to figure out if their curiosity will allow them to excel in an environment like ours. How is their thinking is going to influence how they will do the job here?
Additionally, I’m always aiming to identify what makes someone tick inside and outside of the office; what defines their personalities when they’re not at work. If a candidate doesn’t talk about what they love to do in their spare time, I’ll definitely ask about that. We want our team members to have passion and fervor – to be explorative, to take risks, to try new things.
Maybe they’re into mountain climbing, or write children’s stories on the side – whatever it may be. A person with no out-of-work interests or adventurous spirit won’t thrive at a place like Deutsch, where we’re constantly injecting personality into our work and having to think on our feet.
On the flip side, I’m always excited when someone asks me about the company – about where I see our agency heading in one year, five years, 10 years. What do I want this place to look like, how do I want the people to behave? It’s a bit of a scary question – as no one can predict the future, of course – but I love to discuss themes like possibility and growth, and watch candidates’ eyes widen with interest and anticipation. Our visions for the agency should be aligned if they’re going to join our team and help our company excel.
So a candidate who shows me what they’re into; who shows me that they’re driven and curious – they’ll likely get an offer.