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.


60 Seconds and You’re Hired: Interview Tips that Work

By Kristen Harris

This is it! Showtime. Your interview is scheduled, you’ve taken the time to prepare, and are confidently walking in the door, ready to go. Now it’s time to show them what you’ve got.

If you haven’t quite prepared for the interview yet, check out part one of this series— You’re Hired: Five Tips to Prepare for a Great Interview.

Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes for a moment. For one reason or another, there’s an open role on their team. They have a problem, and think you might be the solution. Actually they hope you are, because they need to get on to the work, not just keep interviewing candidates. When you walk in the door or pick up the phone, that other person wants it to go just as well as you do.

By focusing on key parts of a successful interview, you’ll give yourself a better chance of being “the one.”

First Impressions.

You’ve planned ahead and arrived on time. Take a deep breath, smile, and enter the building with confidence. Greet the person at the front desk and politely ask for the contact you’re meeting. When your interviewer comes to greet you, exude confidence – stand up, make eye contact, smile, and offer a handshake.

Make it a Conversation.

Once the interview starts, think of it as a conversation, not an interrogation. Speak clearly and confidently. Don’t blurt things out; take a few seconds to consider your answer. Explain yourself, but don’t talk too much, ramble, or go on tangents. Answer their questions, focusing on the areas you think are important to the hiring manager. If you’re not sure what’s most important, ask–it’s a conversation.

Talk Less, Listen More.

Answer questions and participate in the conversation, but also listen to what they are saying. The interviewer will give you hints as to what they want, or come right out and tell you. They came in hoping you’re a good fit, listen to what they’re saying so you can show them that you are.

Watch Your Body Language.

Sit up straight, make eye contact, don’t fidget. Don’t fold your arms, it can come across as defensive or insecure; take up space and show confidence. Pay attention to what they’re doing and follow suit. Mirroring is a psychological technique to help connect with others.

Participate and Gauge Their Interest.

Make eye contact, nod your head, take a few notes–do the normal things that demonstrate you’re listening and participating in the conversation. Watch for signs they’re engaged, like leaning in or taking notes. If you see signs they’re losing interest, like fidgeting or checking the clock, ask a question or let them ask more questions to get the conversation back on track.

Turn Off Your Phone.

This gets it’s own section because it is SO important. Having your phone ring during an interview is distracting, interruptive, and just plain rude. If you forget and it rings, don’t answer! Apologize, silence the call, and turn off the ringer. Everything else can wait, there is nothing more important right now than this interview.

Wrap It Up.

Near the end of the interview they’ll probably ask if you have any questions. If they don’t ask, about ten minutes before the scheduled conclusion let them know that you have a few questions. Prioritize in case you run short of time, the interviewer will indicate when the interview is over. Thank them for their time and consideration. If they haven’t already told you, ask when they’ll be making a decision or what the next steps will be. Part with a good handshake, a friendly smile, and “I look forward to hearing from you”.

Walk out confidently, knowing that you’ve presented your best self. Now it’s time to send a thoughtful thank you note, and wait patiently for more information or the next step.

Hire People That Believe In What You Do

By Catherine Lang-Cline

If you have ever had to hire anyone in the past, you know that there are many people that will apply. You need to find the right fit. The easy way to find a good candidate is to find someone that matches the skill set that you want. Look at the resume and check off each skill from the list. But that rarely results in a great candidate.

Humans are an intelligent species and typically a person can be taught a skill. It may vary as to how good they can become in that skill, but if they know similar software, for example, they can be taught a new one. What can’t be taught is culture. What can’t be taught is a belief in what you do.

Believe it or not, you can interview for that.

Many companies hire people that fit their job description. The excellent few companies hire people that believe in what the companies believes in. If you company exists because you wanted to make a change, hire others that believe in that change. Here at Portfolio Creative, we believe in providing our clients with the best candidates, the candidates that we would have selected to perform a task when we worked in advertising and marketing. We believe that the people we place should earn fair pay and have access to healthcare plans as well as be eligible for PTO. We believe that artists and the artists that hire them should be treated differently because they are different.

We hire people internally that also believe in our mission. Your mission might be selling fair-trade goods, local goods, organic goods, and providing a really specialized service. What better way to build on that then to hire people that can be evangelists for what you do. The people that really believe in your mission.

So while we could hire people that are merely driven, instead we hire driven people that believe in all that we do. Because a placement is a person and not just a butt in a seat. What are some of the things that your company stands for and believes in, or what do YOU believe in? Find a candidate that is a match and you will have an engaged, involved, and driven employee that is doing more then completing a job.


Preparing for the Interview

Preparing for the Interview
Acing the Interview - a book about how to make a great impression at interviews. Author - Tony Beshara has been in the placement and recruiting business for 35 years. Here's what I liked:
  • Keeping records of when you talked to people and when they said you should hear back by, that way if they don't call you by the date specified you can call them.
  • Beshara gives you scripts - what to say to family, friends, and peers who might be hiring. He also gives a script for Voice mails. Voice Mails should be specific and succinct. You should say your phone number at least twice and slowly the second time. Repeat your name at least once.
  • Tell stories but don't go overboard.
  • List your Features, Advantages, and Benefits specific to you that make you unique.
  • Prepare for the interview by researching the company and the open position. Prepare questions for the interviewer.
  • Take notes - believe it or not, this makes you appear more intelligent and will help you later to think of questions! It also provides you with "ammunition" for the follow up.
  • Beshara provides you with a list of illegal questions, good to know before an interview. You don't have to answer illegal questions, but find a tactful way of declining to answer.
Beshara suggests questions to ask yourself before you go searching for a job. We don't always think of this, but in a way they prepare you to answer difficult questions that may come up in the interview. For example, if you ask yourself what disappointments you faced in a previous job, you will have a better answer when asked Why did you leave your previous job? or Why are seeking a new position? What is it that you need in a job? How do you handle disappointment or stress on the job? Asking yourself questions like this might also be able to help you uncover feelings that might have prevented you from successfully interviewing. What I didn't like:
  • Too much scripting.
  • Beshara suggests listing 10 or 12 descriptives to explain your work ethic right off the bat. I think this is too much. A list is just a list, it is better to state a few descriptives and explain what they mean to you and how you exemplify them
In Acing the Interview, Beshara ends with questions to ask once an offer is made.

"Tell me about a time when..." CBBI questions unveiled

Ever been tripped up in an interview by questions like this: “Tell me about a time when you have encountered a customer who was complaining of poor service. What did you do?” or “Tell me about a time you had to work with conflicting, delayed, or ambiguous information.” Well do not fear, the interviewer is not trying to trick you, he or she really just wants to know about your experiences and how you have actually acted in a situation, not how you might act or what strategies you know of. Also they might be trying to discover what you think is a stressful situation. This could be good for you, because you get the opportunity to show how well you handle stress, and that everyday little occurrences or upset customers are not that upsetting to you. These types of questions are called Competency-Based Behavioral Interview questions (CBBI) and they are becoming more and more popular these days, so it is better to get used to them than to hope you won’t be asked one. Benefits for you of CBBI questions: 1) There is relevance between the questions asked and the position, as opposed to questions like, “If you were a salad, what would you have in you other than lettuce?” – Who prepared for this question and what is the point? 2) You can use your life experience to answer a question if you do not have work experience to demonstrate competency (i.e. How in life have you been adaptable or taken initiative?). You shouldn’t necessarily practice your answers to these types of questions, as that doesn’t really help you in the interview, but it doesn’t hurt to be familiar with the format and anticipate the type of question. Try to practice giving STAR responses. Describe the Situation and the Task at hand, describe the Action you took, and the Results. For further information refer to: High Impact Interview Questions: 701 Behavior-Based Questions to find the Right Person for Every Job, by Victoria A. Hoevemeyer.