by Arianne Cohen for Businessweek
Who do you most admire and why?
— Michael Yormark, President, the Florida Panthers and Sunrise Sports & Entertainment
“The answer reveals a lot about who the candidate is, who she aspires to be, and whether she has the DNA to be part of a company’s culture. It will also force the interviewee to make a decision between brutal honesty and telling the interviewer what she believes he wants to hear.”
In your last employee review, what areas for improvement were identified?
— Andrew Shapin, Chief Executive Officer, Long Tall Sally
“When candidates are honest, it illuminates self-awareness and potential weaknesses. It also helps ensure I get the best out of them. The response can easily be verified with the previous employer. I also ask what progress has been made.”
Why are you here?
— Andrew Alexander, President, Red Roof Inn
“I always ask this the minute a prospect sits down. After the initial shock wears off, I hope to hear a passion for the hospitality industry and a deep respect for customer service. I find this to be a tremendously effective way to gauge whether the person is interested in working for us or simply seeking a job.”
So you’re a Yankees fan. If you were their owner, how would you make the team better?
— Bonnie Zaben, Chief Operating Officer, AC Lion Recruiting
“I ask the applicant about their hobbies, and then we do role-play. I want to see how they think quickly and compose coherent presentations. Are they recommending specific player changes? Can they quote stats to back up a position? Can they present a cogent argument in five minutes without dead air? You’d be surprised.”
What is your passion?
— Hilarie Bass, Co-president, Greenberg Traurig
“Passion leads to success. I have turned folks away who could not frankly answer this. The people attracted to us must show absolute commitment to the practice of law and solving clients’ problems.”
You’re a project manager? Tell me about a time you had a delayed project.
— Susy Dunn, Vice President of People, Jama Software
“I always have a candidate provide a past situation similar to what they will encounter in a new position. The answer provides huge insights into their level of critical thinking, adaptability, awareness of their impact, and creativity.”
Describe an environment in which you would not thrive.
— Larry Drebes, CEO, Janrain
“The candidate is less likely to have a scripted answer, and you see some on-the-spot introspection. You can learn a remarkable amount about personality, as well as cultural and organizational impact, which is hugely important. If this question is asked early in an interview, it often yields color for a richer conversation.”
If you could do anything, what would be your ideal job?
— Liz Bingham, Partner, Ernst & Young
“A resume can tell you about their previous experience, but this question helps indicate the individual’s passions and strengths and whether they’re well-matched to the job. From aspirations in politics, to cafe ownership, to entrepreneurship, the answers are revealing.”