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Careers More: Inc. Interview Questions Careers
This Is The Only Interview Question That Matters
Lou Adler, Inc.
Feb. 3, 2014, 3:39 PM21,352 2
Tweet 72
1.2k Recommend Recommend
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John Moore/Getty Images
One simple question can get at more than 20 others.
Last week, LinkedIn announced to the world that Ive been in the recruiting industry for 36 years. During that
time, Ive written a number of books about talent challenges and opportunities, but one thing continues to
surprise me: More than 90% of hiring managers think theyre good interviewers, yet rarely do they reach
unanimous hiring decisions with other 90 percenters in the same room evaluating the same candidate.
This realization led me on a quest to find the one interview question that would yield universal agreement from
hiring managers. It took 10 years of trial and error, but I eventually found it. Here it is:
What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment in
your career to date?
To see why this simple question is so powerful, imagine youre the candidate, and Ive just asked you this
question. What accomplishment would you select?
Then imagine that over the course of the next 15 to 20 minutes I asked you the following follow-up questions.
How would you respond?
Can you give me a detailed overview of the accomplishment?
Tell me about the company, your title, your position, your role, and the team involved.
What were the actual results achieved?
When did it take place and how long did the project take?
Why were you chosen?
What were the three to four biggest challenges you faced, and how did you deal with them?
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38 of 49 05-02-2014 20:22
Where did you go the extra mile or take the initiative?
Walk me through the plan, how you managed it, and its measured success.
Describe the environment and resources.
Explain your managers style and whether you liked it.
What were the technical skills needed to accomplish the objective and how were they used?
What were some of the biggest mistakes you made?
What aspects of the project did you truly enjoy?
What aspects did you not especially care about and how did you handle them?
Give examples of how you managed and influenced others.
How did you change and grow as a person?
What you would do differently if you could do it again?
What type of formal recognition did your receive?
With an accomplishment big enough, and answers detailed enough to fill 20 minutes, this one line of questioning
can tell an interviewer everything he or she needs to know about a candidate. The insight gained is remarkable.
But the real secret ingredient is not the question; thats just a setup. The most important elements are the details
underlying the accomplishment. This is what real interviewing is about delving into the details.
Dont spend time asking clever interview questions; instead, spend time learning to get the answer to just this
one question. Then ask it again and begin to connect the dots. After you hire a few people this way, youll also
call it the most important interview question of all time.
More from Inc.:
12 Ways to Get More of What You Want
Your Business Is Booming. Time to Change Course
How to Overcome a Fear of Failure
Why You Wont Use the Word Crowdfunding For Long
Bad Customer Service Happens, But You Dont Have to Accept It
This post originally appeared at Inc.. Copyright 2014. Follow Inc. on Twitter.
SEE ALSO: The 25 Most Bizarre Interview Questions
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Steve Fansler on Feb 3, 8:45 PM said:
This is an excellent question & follow-up, but there are many who could provide effective responses without
actually having accomplished much of what they claim. I believe well done is better than well said and after
having evaluated more than 350 candidates for management positions, Ive found nothing yet that surpasses the
predictor variables better than actual work samples. These provide a means for the candidate to actually perform
the key work tasks and the opportunity to explain why they made certain decisions and took specific actions.
This Was a Lot More than One Question on Feb 3, 11:50 PM said:
Sorry but a a career and experience is a lot more than one project or success story. Its a culmination of years of
work. These silly catch all questions serve little purpose in choosing the perfect candidate.
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