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What’s The Best Interview Question?

October 27th, 2009 · 3 Comments

 

What’s the best interview question you’ve ever received?  One that made you say to yourself, “Wow.  That’s a brilliant question?” 

One of the best questions I’ve ever heard is regularly posed posed by Tim Brown, CEO and president of global design firm IDEO.  In a New York Times “Corner Office” interview, Brown revealed his favorite interview question posed to job applicants: 

“One question I always find helpful is to ask who they’ve done things with. And if they can very quickly give you lots of examples of what other people did, then you’ve got some hint about how collaborative they are.

If, however, the answer is, ‘I did this and I did that and I was responsible for that,’ and you get no sense of who they worked with and how they worked with them, then I worry. Because then I see somebody who probably isn’t very collaborative, probably isn’t very good at promoting the ideas of others and probably isn’t going to bring talent out very effectively.

They may be very inspirational, they may do brilliant work, but they’re probably not going to actually result in a more capable organization, which is what I’m looking for.”

What’s the best interview question you’ve ever been asked?

Tags: Job Search · Q&As

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Apolinaras "Apollo" Sinkevicius | LeanStartups.com // Oct 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    My favorite: “Are you the kind who looks to be between people much smarter than you?”
    My answer to that question is extremely passionate “hell yeah!” I have worked with mediocre people and it is a miserable way to waste your time. Give me a room full of geniuses and I am in heaven.

    I like to use modified version of this question whenever I am interviewing a future boss: “Who is smarter than you in this company and why?”
    If he or she thinks they are the smartest one, I know his/her ego is bigger than their IQ. Bad combination, especially in the world of startups.

  • 2 Aubrey M. // Oct 29, 2009 at 6:21 am

    This is a little generic, so sorry for that, but the best questions I’ve ever been asked are along the lines of, “Really? What was that like?” or “So what did you do?” because I feel like then the interviewer is actually listening and interested in what I’m saying and I’m not completely babbling on and on. It’s small and it’s not really brilliant, but when an interviewer makes you feel like a person, and not just a job applicant by asking something small…well, those are my favorite moments.

    It’s definitely not the “Who would you take to dinner and why” question, I can tell you that right now.

  • 3 Katie Dally // Nov 2, 2009 at 1:39 am

    I have to agree with Aubrey, above; the best interviews I’ve ever had were the ones where questioning flowed more like conversation and there were few questions directly asked. If I have the opportunity to talk personally and genuinely about my professional experience, while engaging with my interviewer, I think that makes the experience more positive on both ends and increases the chances of making it farther in the application process. In internships I’ve held, my coworkers have always stressed how important it is that a prospective employee be a good fit with their current team, and making a personal connection while maintaining professional conversation is an incredible asset in that situation.

    But to provide a real answer to your question, it’s probably, “Tell me about a time you had to overcome a major challenge in your work.” You can’t BS this answer, so it forces you to get real, admit your faults, but then explain how you overcame them and show how well you work under pressure. Your interviewer has likely been in the same situation at least once, so it gives you something to connect over. Just have a GREAT example ready!

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