From the Greek philosophers to the current findings in Emotional Intelligence we know that personal reflection on a regular basis is an integral part of growth and well-being. And yet we so often become immersed in the rush of all those things on our To Do List and the next deadline that we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn from our experiences, assess how effective we are and truly take stock of who we are as a person. As has often been said, "We get so busy doing that we forget about being."
This point was reinforce recently when speaking with a group of HR professionals and executives about their interview and selection process. Many of them shared examples of questions they ask candidates in an effort to understand what makes them tick and if they will fit into the organizational culture.
As the discussion progressed many in the group realized the questions tended to elicit more of a recitation of past experiences or an attempt on the part of the candidate to "minimize weaknesses" or provide a "desired answer."
We began to explore questions that would drive and require real reflection and personal disclosure about the candidate at levels not reached in most interview processes.
Here are a few of the more probing questions we developed:
Tell me about 2 pieces of feedback in your career (one positive and one negative) that were defining moments because they changed the way you looked at yourself. Describe the feedback and how it changed you.
If you could turn back time and use the benefit of your experience and hindsight tell me about an event in your career that you would do over again because you would do it differently. Describe the event, what you would do differently and why as well as what you learned from it.
If I spoke with people you managed throughout your career and asked them to describe you, what 3 things would I hear most often from those you manage now that I WOULDN'T HEAR from those you managed in the early stages of your career.
In 3 words or phrases, describe the best boss you have ever had and the most important lesson you learned from that person.
If someone who was about to enter the workforce for the first time asked you for 2 pieces of advice about career success and satisfaction, what advice would you offer?
In spite of your efforts to learn and grow what is the one thing that you still too often find yourself saying, "I cannot believe I made the same mistake again."
If you were starting your own company and hiring your leadership team what 3 attributes would you look for in candidates that you will absolutely not compromise on?
If you were starting your own company what are the 3 attributes of its company culture would you focus on?
What is the one thing about you that people most value when they work with you? What is the one thing about you that can make it difficult for others when they work with you?
Up to this point in your career what are one or two abilities you have that have not been fully utilized?
What 3 things would you hope people will say about you when you retire?
If you had to start your career over again but could not choose the same career, what career would you choose and why?
Trust me; if you begin to use even a few of these questions you will be pleasantly surprised what you will learn about the candidate and, equally important, you will have helped them understand themselves better than they did when the interview started.