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Smart people don’t have all the answers to every problem. They just know how to find the answers. So, it is not “what” people know that makes them successful. It is “how” they go about solving problems, accomplishing tasks, or dealing with unexpected situations that makes the difference.
During an interview, how do you discover a person’s capacity for success? It all boils down to asking one key question, according Lou Adler, thought leader and author of Hire with your Head. Lou says the #1 Best Interview Question is, “Please think about your most significant accomplishment. Now, tell me all about it.”
When asked this interview question, a candidate may need some prodding to open up with significant details. I recommend asking open-ended, follow-up questions that help the candidate tell the story of his/her accomplishment. Ask lots of what, when, where, how and why questions. During the next 15-20 minutes, you will learn more about how the candidate thinks, acts, reacts, manages and performs than from asking a laundry list of interview questions. The Accomplishment question and your follow-up questions become the quintessential behavioral based interview.
For over 15 years, we have asked this Accomplishment question of the candidates we interview for our clients. It provides insight in a multitude of areas. Two things I also learn from the candidate’s answer is what they value and how they communicate. The accomplishment the candidate describes will enlighten you as to whether they prefer individual or team work, people or tasks, and if they are introverted or extroverted. For those who use DISC or other like-kind behavioral assessments, the Accomplishment question provides a glimmer of their DISC style.
For hiring managers who often fly by the seat of their pants when they interview, or who struggle to get results from standard interview questions, just ask the Accomplishment question. It is simple and provides a well-rounded snapshot of the candidate.