One Interview Question That Cuts Through the BS to Reveal Someone's True Character

By Catherine Lang-Cline

We all try to be so clever when asking interview questions. We might be intentionally trying to trip up a candidate or we might be really wanting to dig deep and see if this person is going to be a fit for our company.  

Inc. Magazine recently said that THE QUESTION to ask in an interview is: Can you give me the names of four people whose careers you have fundamentally improved?  

The idea behind this question is that if the person being interviewed starts listing names of people with more influence than they do, they are “takers.” “Givers” on the other hand will list people that are equal to them or below them, because they like to build up other people.

This is definitely a great question and you can learn a lot about someone if this is asked. You want people on your team that can work well with others. People that will “raise all ships” and be an overall cheerleader of the company and the people that have chosen to work there.

You want a person that is not self-serving, is confident, and is comfortable enough to help others elevate their game. So perhaps this is the one question that cuts through the BS. Perhaps this tells you everything you need to know. But just in case that doesn’t give you exactly all of the answers, I will include some of the questions that I like, that serve a similar purpose.

Did you work while you went to college or in high school?

You can determine if a person is a self-starter, a get-it-done person, or needs to stay focused on one thing at a time. It can also illustrate if they are grateful in any way for any help that they received while going to school. It is difficult to give employees a lot of perks when they are not going to appreciate a single one of them. 

What is your dream job and why?

This question is similar to “what gets you up in the morning?” It digs a bit deeper and allows you to get a peek at what they love to do. Is it to help people, to strategize, to simply make money? This kind of question tells you if what you are offering is going to keep them interested for a long period of time. People want purpose and they will give 100% of themselves if they know they have a purpose with your company.

Can you share some examples of what you’ve done to grow and develop in your current job?

Not only will you find out if this person likes to challenge themselves and grow, making them more of an asset to you, you also have a problem-solver. They will give of their own time to improve their skill set which makes this person more of an asset.

Point being, in every answer, you want the “giver.” You want someone that wants more then taking a paycheck from you, and perhaps an hour or two at the company ping-pong table. Get your one question that is going to cut through the BS asked up front and get yourself a whole team of givers.

Interested in reading the article that inspired this one? Check it out here.