four questions.

Given my current circumstances, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to interviews and hiring practices. Looking back on my own experiences sitting on hiring panels and being interviewed, I must say there are good interview questions, and those that don’t quite cut it.

How do you judge if a candidate is a good fit? That they have the goals, morals, ambitions, the technical skills and a demeanor compatible with an organization? You ask questions, of course. These are the best I’ve encountered.

Why do you want this position, and what makes you the best candidate?

This is such a basic question and yet, somehow so difficult to answer. Why do I want this thing and why am I worthy of this thing? There is a line between the simple truth that I want this thing and I think wholeheartedly that I my past experiences and future potential would make me a rockstar in this job…and the reality of needing to show an employer that I have the self-awareness of my own abilities, have done the research to describe tangible reasons why this job, why this company. Until the day that we can look into a person’s mind and translate desire and conviction into concrete reason, this is a pivotal question.

How do you handle stress?

Back to that self-awareness. A company cannot pretend that life and work will always be sunshine and rainbows and unicorn farts. And likewise, a candidate must be able to demonstrate their own strength in the face of adversity. Each person handles stress differently, but each person does experience stress. Knowing that a candidate has the maturity and wherewithal to handle stressful situations in a manner that does not obliterate workplace morale–that is important.

What does Leadership mean to you?

Now, this one. I’ve seen and answered many iterations of this question. However, not all leadership questions are equal. Most often, I’ve been asked about my ‘leadership strategy.’ Any answer to this question is likely bullshit because frankly, being a leader is fluid and flexible depending on the team one is working with, the environment and the task at hand. You will sound like a robot listing off your surefire ‘steps to being a leader.’

Asking what leadership means to an individual is able to capture so much more. How a leader communicates. How team dynamics ensure the success or failure of a project. How a true leader empowers and inspires her team. An understanding that each person has individual needs, style, passions, and hot buttons. How trust is the most important ingredient in a workplace relationship. I don’t need a strategy, but I do need to know the difference between leading and managing, and the equally important acts of listening and following.

What gives you energy?

This. This I am borrowing from a truly insightful woman. What gives you energy? What makes you tick? What makes you want to get up in the morning, Monday through Friday, with a smile on your face? More and more, my generation especially, we want a career that is meaningful. Have a positive impact on others, on the world. We want to work our asses off, see the fruits of our labor and to be recognized for such. For an employer, how amazing to see that spark in the eyes of the person sitting across from you and to start to formulate how you will leverage that passion to further the goals of your company. It is no secret that brilliance occurs when we put our energies towards a project or cause we care about and are given the freedom to pursue ideas and solutions. It’s kismet. Linking an individual and her passions with a company equally excited to put those interests to good use.

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