“Tell me about your biggest accomplishment…the thing you are most proud of….” It’s a normal question I’ve asked in many interviews. My goal is to get a candidate talking about themselves.
Gary didn’t hold back. He replied, “I lost ten bowling balls.”
A relatively new recruiter at the time, I grinned, scratched my head with my pencil and waited for him to continue. And boy did he.
Sometimes we asked candidates things we shouldn’t and often times candidates will tell us stuff we don’t want to hear. Certainly as recruiters we need to be aware of the Federal and State laws surrounding discrimination and illegal questions – the biggies of course concern race, religion, creed, sex and age. It’s a tender area that each interviewer should be made aware of and always sensitive to, ideally through training by Human Resources or Recruiting. Candidates, however, often tell us things of a personal nature that may make us uncomfortable. During those times I think it is fair game to quickly redirect the candidate back to the area we really want to explore, especially if what we are hearing borders on intimate or deeply personal subjects.
“I love to bowl. My bowling ball weighs about fifteen pounds. I lost one hundred and fifty pounds over the past eighteen months. That’s like ten bowling balls of fat. I approached my weight loss like any project. I set goals, milestones, gathered resources, support materials, created a team to help me…” He went on and on. While I haven’t been able to shake the image of somebody carting ten bowling balls around with them, I did get his point. He was focused, determined, smart and honest. I asked for other examples and assured him those might be more appropriate to share with the remaining interviewers. He was a pretty remarkable person to say the least.
Now, when I pose the question, I make sure I qualify it by saying, “With respect to your career, tell me about your….” Seems to get me the information I really want and need.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, just be ready for some eye-opening answers from time to time.