The Essential Job Interview Question Few Ever Ask
This question uncovers three important perspectives
The purpose of any job interview question is to gauge whether the candidate is right for the job and vice versa. To accomplish this, job interviewers tend to ask three types of questions:
- Fishing for platitudes. The classic example is "What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?" Such questions are only useful insofar as they flush out candidates too lazy to do some research. Those who did their homework have carefully prepared answers. Those who didn't just wing it and whiff.
- Brainteasers. The classic example is "Why are manhole covers round?" (Note: the classic answer "Because a round cover won't fall down the hole" is wrong. I'll give the correct answer at the end of this column.) The idea behind this type of question is to discover whether the candidate is a problem solver. Opinions are mixed on whether this technique useful.
- Job-specific open-enders. The classic example is "How would you handle [situation specific to the job being sought]?" This type of question is the most valuable of the three because it can't be gamed and really does allow the interviewer to gauge whether the candidate is up to the job.
There is a job interview question, however, that doesn't really fit into any of these three categories but which reveals massively valuable information:
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