If interviews bring rote responses and little insight into an individual, you’ll want to begin asking different questions. Patrick Brandt, CEO of Zimbra, an open source collaboration software company, has four questions he poses to candidates that go beyond the surface. For instance, No. 1 asks about a person’s first job, their pay, and a valuable lesson they learned. This question, Brandt says, speaks to how people have developed their work ethics. “So you start to learn a lot about those people’s values and background and maybe even their upbringing a little bit.”
The second question is: What book has had the biggest influence on you? “I’ve had people say ‘I read a lot about the Civil War’ and I’ve had other people say ‘I read romance novels every day, all day’ and I’ve had other people say ‘I haven’t read a book since college when I had to.’”
What’s a good follow-up? Brandt suggests asking a candidate what he or she does for fun. In one interview, he discovered a soon-to-be employee was a professional Frisbee player who travels around the world attending throwing competitions.
Brandt’s third question: When was the last time you failed to deliver on a commitment? According to this post on Inc.com, No. 3 delves into empathy. “Brandt is looking to see that not only can a person empathize with whomever she let down, she readily takes responsibility for doing so,” writes Christina Desmarais.
The final question Brandt recommends is asking if the candidate has any questions. “Brandt says giving people the opportunity to put the CEO on the spot is a good way to make them feel valued,” concludes Desmarais.