This is the interview question Deloitte’s head of talent asks candidates to find out what’s most important to them

Job interview with female hiring manager
‘This question tells us a lot about what's important to the candidate,” Deloitte’s head of talent says.
Ilona Titova—EyeEm/Getty Images

After screening through candidates CV’s and lining up which potential new hires have the skills, experience, and qualifications to do the role, next comes the tricky bit: Working out whether they are the right culture fit for the firm. 

Some recruiters have gone to extreme lengths to decipher whether the personality of the person they’re interviewing would gel with the team and company values. 

Just last week, one hiring manager was slammed online for the questionable practice of asking candidates: “How do you feel life has worked out for you so far?

The question went viral for being intrusive, too personal and possibly discriminatory. 

To avoid online ire—and get a more useful answer from the interviewee—hiring managers might want to put Deloitte U.S. head of talent David Rizzo’s favorite interview question to the test.

Rizzo’s team sorts more than 2 million job applications a year, so they’ve built up a storehouse of experience for deciding who’s the right fit for a role. 

If you can highlight only one thing on your résumé, what is it and why?

In an interview with Insider, Rizzo revealed his favorite interview question: “If you can highlight only one bullet, accomplishment, or activity on your résumé, what is it and why?”

“This question tells us a lot about what’s important to the candidate,” he said.

From that one query, hiring managers can find out what a prospective new hire is most passionate about, what they’ve accomplished and how that reflects their strengths, as well as where their purpose and values lie. 

“I like this as an opening question because it allows the candidate to signal how they want to be known and remembered,” Rizzo added.

A recent example of the question in practice is when Rizzo interviewed a candidate with relevant work experiences, a high GPA in business school, and tons of extracurriculars.

You’d assume that he’d use the opening question to highlight one of these many impressive accomplishments. But Rizzo was surprised when, instead, the candidate pointed to the very bottom of his résumé, where he wrote that he’d run a marathon.

In honor of a close family member who died a few years earlier, the candidate ran the race for a relevant charity and developed a detailed “business plan” on their approach, including how they overcame setbacks during training. 

“This one response touched on the variety of questions we often ask campus candidates, like ones about goal setting, navigating unanticipated situations, recognition for service excellence, and selling ideas or concepts,” Rizzo said.

“Their story left a lasting impression of who they are, and this is what your goal should be during your interview.”

What Deloitte looks for in candidates

After having screened for technical skill, Rizzo looks for applicants “who are mindful about the influence they can have on their colleagues and their community, and who can show clear connections between their actions and changes made.” 

He also looks out for candidates who are interested in their own learning and development, and can demonstrate their ability to adapt to a changing environment, solve complex challenges, and deliver results.

As a business that advises clients, trust is key at Deloitte—“and that trust is earned by developing a long-lasting and evolving bond with our clients”, Rizzo claims.

As such, he looks for evidence of how a candidate’s moral compass has guided their decision-making in challenging situations, as well as, their ability to “exceed clients’ expectations and even anticipate needs clients have yet to articulate.”

Meanwhile, the specific values that make a candidate a good culture fit for Deloitte are curiosity, being team-focused and purpose-driven: “These are qualities I believe can complement Deloitte’s shared values of leadership, integrity, care, inclusion, and collaboration.”

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