A great interview question

When we interview candidates we are always looking for a way to gain insights into their character.  While some tech companies ask interview questions meant to puzzle candidates one of the best questions I was ever asked is a great way to really understand what a candidate’s core values are.

I was sitting with the VP of HR interviewing for an open position in Boston when she asked me a great question , “you just won the lottery and after taxes you’re going to take home $50 million. “What do you do with the money?”.

I thought for a second and then answered her honestly..

  1. I pay off all my debts, including my mortgage.
  2. Put some money into long term investments so I can retire without worrying about living expenses.
  3. Buy my closets relatives’ nice homes here in Florida so they can get out of the Michigan winters.
  4. Give the guys I served with in the military a nice check because they are some of the finest people I have ever served with.
  5. Establish a charity for people who can’t afford prescription medications but don’t qualify for low income assistance.
  6. Finally, establish a multiple shelters for abandoned or unwanted pets because my dogs have given me lots of love throughout my life.

She then asked me “what about a new house or new car?”.  I responded with the truth “my current home is just fine, I don’t need anything bigger and I just can’t see spending a lot of money on a luxury car when there are too many people in need around us all”. She smiled and simply said “I love your answers”.  

Later I asked her where she came up with the question as she said “I read it somewhere and frankly, it can help me understand a persons character”.  She continued “you would be surprised how many people say they would buy a great big house or go on luxurious vacations”.

Interviews are meant to learn about candidates, yet too many HR people seem to ask the same questions over and over and candidates seem to same the same canned answers.  Understanding what’s in someones heart can lead to obtaining a great employee vs someone who will “just fit in”.

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