Interview Q's for Any Org

At our recent CEO WATTAGE Network dinner in April, one of the many topics we covered was ‘hiring top talent’. We have a shared challenge as CEOs to set and keep an extremely high hiring bar. Regardless of industry or organization size, we are always on the lookout to hire more "A Players" into our teams.

The right or wrong hire can make or break an organization, and we had a great time sharing interview questions we like to ask the top candidates we interview. In this post, please enjoy a few of our favorites, along with why they are important to our hiring processes.   

If you could accomplish only one more life goal before you died, what would it be and what are you already doing to make sure that it happens?

Although it may come off a little morbid initially, I love this question because it really pushes the interviewee to be brutally honest with me (and themselves) about what is most important to them. It can also give me an overall idea of their task management style and how they spend their free time. 

-Bianca Wakeford, President, Your Secret Admirer

Who is your hero, and why?

I find this question gives great insight into how people build their circles of influence, and who they draw on for inspiration when the going gets rough. A hero is like a mentor, but more of an emotional taproot. Obvious hero answers are famous people, but more interesting is when the candidate finds heroes closer to home. I think finding a hero closer to home shows a healthy sense of both connectedness and humbleness – I choose to be around people who teach me things, I don’t know everything, I seek to be in learning situations. Along those lines, I really like it when the hero is a bit of a surprise, maybe a more junior person, a child, etc.

More important, I want to know the person doesn’t just have a hero, but that they seek out heroes - and that these heroes change how they actually work, not just how they dream. So, a good follow-on question is, “How did this person change how you actually work?” If a candidate has a compelling story about a hero in their life who actually changed how they work, and that result was positive, then I know I’ve got someone with an open personality who can find sources of inspiration and mentorship around them when they get stuck. And, the corollary is that if a person can be humble enough to find heroes in their lives, then that person is probably not an asshole. 

-Diane Lansinger, Founder and CEO, Kinwolfe

When was the first time somebody told you that you were arrogant?

I first heard of this question when it had been asked by a brilliant Eastern European female game developer, to a brilliant white American male. It was not: “Has anybody ever told you that you were arrogant?” It was simply one smart person directly seeking information from the other, respectfully, with zero subtlety. Across genders, there is often an arrogance associated with intelligence.

I like the question because it is likely a question the candidate has never heard in an interview, and the answer gives insight into a candidate's emotional intelligence, or lack thereof. It calibrates how a candidate might react to very new or different information. Most candidates that I ask this question to (and it is not a question for every candidate) have recalled humorous tales of an encounter early in their lives where they realized or learned the definition of arrogance as it related to them.

-Sarah Blankinship, Founder & CEO, RightPatch

Hiring top talent is an art and a science. Our CEO WATTAGE Network allowed us to come together and share insights about a discipline that is important to each of our organizations, regardless of size or stage.

We want to know - what are the best interview questions you have ever asked, and why?

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