My favorite interview question to ask prospective employees is one that has continually resulted in the candidate revealing a large slice of who they are personally. Given that many questions are ‘out of bounds’ to ask, my question has been a huge plus. It is very simple.
I ask the baggage question in the following manner, “We have all had major challenges we have had to overcome –often it is a personal situation that is the toughest. Is there a really tough personal or business situation or challenge that you have had to face, and what was your strategy for overcoming that adversity? The preceding can be worded a few different ways, but 95% of the time the candidate will tell you about a personal challenge they have overcome. In a few cases, it has saved me from a bad hire as they have revealed some baggage from their past that I might not have been able to find out. One male prospect seemed great till this question—then he changed and gave me an example of how females really bugged him and in fact he got quite angry. Given the fact my office was 65% female, it saved me a lot of grief to learn this about the prospect. Another time, a seemingly strong candidate broke down in front of me and related a very tough situation that would certainly have affected their performance in a very negative way.
One simple question has helped me numerous times.
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