Hiring people is a funny business. Everyone puts their best foot forward. Well, I guess unless you’re an employer who believes in the famous “stress” style of interviewing. But, a large part of interviewing is a mutual “feeling out process”. For the interviewer, they’re concerned with whether or not the person is a good fit, talented, hard-working, and trustworthy. For the person being interviewed it’s much the same, plus wondering about the benefits, the pay, etc.
One of the things that good interviewers do during an interview is to try to capture and elicit moments of spontaneity, to get beyond the canned questions and answers, to really get to know the candidate. This is a mutual process.
So, let me tell you about someone who gave a spontaneous and possibly the best answer to an interview question ever. It’s someone I had known professionally for a long time who was interviewing for a position with me. I already respected them, but I try to allow the interview to speak for itself, as it can say a lot about how seriously someone takes the job and application process. During interviews, I like to get a sense of where the candidate sees themselves in the future. I’m looking for some time commitment from them to my office, but not certainly not forever, and if I know their future goals and aspirations I can try to help provide coaching, mentoring and learning opportunities to support their professional growth and goals. Then, when and if they leave, I often have someone I can call or rely on to help within their own field, or agency. Plus, I believe in mentoring, growth and support.
So, I often ask a few questions related to where they see themselves in the future, what their goals, dreams, or aspirations are. With this particular person the interview was really going well and when we got into this territory and started to talk about their dreams for the future they spontaneously responded,
“I want to be a philanthropist.”
For her, she wanted to be well off enough to be able to devote time and money to helping other people. Wow, what a great aspiration. I’m pretty sure I want to be a philanthropist too, don’t you?
So, not only did she get the job, but she’s my right-hand person and I’m lucky to have her working with me. Couldn’t be more fortunate.
If you want to see how some of the better companies actively recruit talent, check out this brief recruiting video by Zendesk.