What is everyone's favorite, non traditional, interview question to ask?

Brian Hartley
Brian Hartley Member Posts: 185 Expert
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edited August 2023 in CS Conversations

Few of my favorites:

  • If you could start a non-profit, what would the mission be?
  • How do you manage stress?
  • What do you do to stay mentally "healthy"?

Comments

  • Devon Lee
    Devon Lee Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    First Anniversary Photogenic First Comment
    edited June 2020

    both of these are fairly lighthearted which I find can help show personality during what otherwise might be a stressful conversation for the interviewee 

    What podcasts or media do you listen to regularly? 

    • i've had this lead down true crime rabbit holes, but I like this because it helps me understand what an individual might consume for personal or professional growth as well as entertainment. Responses have also allowed interviewee to share that they don't listen to podcasts because they spend time doing XYZ or that they prefer to read. 

    When interviewing more junior roles I've asked "if you could have a theme song playing as you walk down the street, what would it be?"

  • Brian Hartley
    Brian Hartley Member Posts: 185 Expert
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    edited June 2020

    Love this @Devon Lee !

  • Alex Turkovic
    Alex Turkovic Member Posts: 61 Expert
    First Anniversary
    edited June 2020

    I have an interview philosophy that I've adopted from one of my mentors. I call it Bucket 1 and Bucket 2.

    Bucket 1 consists of a person's education, experience, skills, etc. In other words - these are all learned things and items which are very much coach-able. There are two things specific to Bucket 1 that I hate:

    1. These are really the only types of things you see on resumes and essentially get your foot in the door - but they completely ignore the essence of WHO someone is.
    2. Because of #1, a perfectly qualified candidate can be a real scoundrel of a person - which makes Bucket 2 critical!

    Bucket 2: These are the less tangible aspects of a person's identity which are usually not found on a resume, and perhaps more critically: typically CANNOT BE COACHED. I'm talking about what makes a person tick. Where their passions lie. How they were brought up as a child. Where their moral compass points, etc.

    Bucket 2 is tricky because some of those things are items you cannot legally ask during the interview. (i.e. "So - would you say you had good parents growing up?" haha).  But, as @Devon Lee so beautifully illustrated, there are wonderfully creative ways of getting through the polished, practiced interview questions in order to see who someone really is. 

    IMPORTANT: As a leader, I typically do not even proceed onto Bucket 1 topics until I'm sure Bucket 2 is solid. As the latter can't easily be coached - I ensure we are solid there before I take stock on Bucket 1.

    All of that said - to the purpose of the original post @Brian Hartley - some of my favorite questions are:

    • "I have opportunities in my own personal development that I'm working on all the time to try and improve myself. What are some of those 'gaps in your professional toolbelt' that you're working on?" 
      • THE INTENT: here is to see how self-driven the individual is to improve themselves.
    • "Who would you call your greatest mentor(s) and why?"
      • THE INTENT: If someone stumbles to identify who their mentors are, it could be an indication that they aren't open to learning from others or aren't very coachable. Worth digging into.
    • "What would you do if you were given $1,000 to with whatever you wanted?"
      • THE INTENT: I think as long as they don't blow it ALL on themselves, I'm usually satisfied with the answer...but definitely looking for their generous, philanthropic and family oriented side.
    • "What is the best and most memorable customer service you've ever received, and why was it so?"
      • THE INTENT: This could be a Bucket 1 question as well, but the answer could tell you a lot about how naturally service oriented the person is, which is important in a customer facing role.

    Sorry for the novel, but I hope this helps.

  • Brian Hartley
    Brian Hartley Member Posts: 185 Expert
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    edited June 2020

    This is great @Alex Turkovic .  Appreciate it

     

  • Nick Maugeri
    Nick Maugeri Member Posts: 4 Seeker
    edited June 2020

    @Alex Turkovic  I have a very similar approach - we do deep dives into key attributes that aren't coachable. 

    One of my favorite questions is "What are you really good at, but never want to do anymore?

    It tests their ability to speak with humility about being "good" at something, and identify things that they don't like but is on their resume.

    I also end all of my final round interviews with: "What have I not asked you yet that I should have?"

    It gives the candidate the opportunity to showcase their strength and the question they pick tends to be insightful around what they care about.

  • Jarren Pinchuck
    Jarren Pinchuck Member Posts: 38 Expert
    edited July 2020

    One of my favourite things about being a CS leader and hiring CSMs is that I want to ask questions that really get to know the person and their personality. For me, it is so important to understand them on a personal level because they'll be looking after customers. This means I throw some out there questions at candidates and love getting the answers. 

    Here is a great one I use:

    I am going to wave a magic wand and give you a superpower. You will have this superpower for the rest of your life and you'll be the only person on the planet to have it. You can choose either flight or invisibility. Which one would it be?

    There are some really interesting psychological stats based on their answer but at the very least you can get an idea for the way they think and express themselves.

    Also doubles as a fantastic conversation starter at a dinner party.

  • Alex Turkovic
    Alex Turkovic Member Posts: 61 Expert
    First Anniversary
    edited July 2020

    Love it. I'm sure you get some interesting ones, especially for invisibility. 

    An interesting twist (and potential rabbit hole) would be to not give them a choice of two at all and keep it open to any super power they wish. 

  • Scott Hopper
    Scott Hopper Member Posts: 70 Expert
    First Comment
    edited July 2020

    Ok, being on the other side of the fence.  I'm not a big "direct consumer of podcasts" However I enjoy several NPR podcasts that my wife subscribes to such as Radiolab, and "How they Built this".  In general I'm a little restless I'm a physical being that loves playing Soccer and Paddle tennis.  I am lessor candidate?   

  • Scott Hopper
    Scott Hopper Member Posts: 70 Expert
    First Comment
    edited July 2020

    @Alex Turkovic I think there is bias that we have had great mentors. It's probably fair to ask it another way.  How do handle negative feedback? Do you seek others opinions on work product? 

    1.  Myself I would have difficulty listing an influential mentor but I've wasn't mature enough early in my career to want to lead.  
    2.  I would also say I only remember having an official mentor when I joined Lotus and there wasn't much the individual assigned to could help me with.  I was extremely ready for the role.  
    3. The effectiveness of coaching is less as we get older.  
  • Devon Lee
    Devon Lee Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    First Anniversary Photogenic First Comment
    edited July 2020

    great question, Scott. I wouldn't count you as a lessor candidate - I would however, have found out that you have a wife, and that you enjoy physical activity and might be a ringer for the company soccer team if hired. 

  • Tatyana Ventura
    Tatyana Ventura Member Posts: 5 Seeker
    First Anniversary
    edited July 2020

    Great list! 

    I would add, "What would your friends say your tag line is?"