The Bagg Group revisits a standard interview question


When Bono of U2 was asked if he would ever run for president, he replied, “ No, I wouldn’t want to move to a smaller house.”

We‘ve all, on occasion, made a glib remark in answer to a question which we consider somewhat silly.  When candidates do that during job interviews, they later worry if being flippant could have cost them. 

We tell them to give hiring managers more credit.

At The Bagg Group, we’re experts in the art and science of asking questions.  We interview dozens of candidates for every one we refer to our clients for a full-time position, contract work, or a temp placement.

Since we’re in the business of asking and listening to ensure a great match between a candidate and a position, we can confirm that while some questions may seem odd, there’s no such thing as a stupid one. 

Whatever the query, the answer can shed some light. Even Bono’s glib retort in the example above reveals a quick wit.

Still, while every question has value, not all interview questions are created equal. Some questions typically will net you polite, appropriate responses.  Others give you a better understanding of a candidate’s interests and aspirations.

Take the case of the standard question, “Why do you want to work here?” 

It’s a fair query, but it may be that the candidate will simply try to answer what they think you want to hear.  Plus, it’s safe to assume they believe it’s an interesting opportunity, or they wouldn’t be interviewing for it.  

In any event, if you meet someone who wants the job only for the money, or because your workplace is five minutes from their home, they probably would know better than to admit that.  

A different question to give you a greater sense of what motivates the candidate could be:

  •    What do you think you will like most about this job? or
  •    What do you think you will learn working here that interests you?

Both these question force some personal reflection.  They allow you insight to see if your objectives, and the candidate’s interests, are aligned.

If the candidate answers they believe they will especially enjoy an activity which, in fact, they won’t be doing much of, it’s good for you to know.  This way, you can clarify the job description a bit more so you can both make an informed choice.

A good way to know if you’re asking an insightful question is to ask it of yourself first. If you were being interviewed, what would you answer.  The questions that make you stop and think are the ones that will give you the most bang for your query. 

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