Many years ago I played golf a few times with the then English CMO of QuickBooks. I noted from April 2014 that now as Intuit, their CEO gave an interview to the New York Times. It featured Brad Smith’s four favourite interview questions.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve delivered C-Suite workshoops on interviewing salespeople. There’s so much more to effective final interviewing than asking a list of clever popquiz questions downloaded from the internet.
Whilst context and lines of questioning are key, you can always take something from other people’s proven experience. His quartet starts with an icebreaker, then assesses vulnerability, learning ability and any barriers;
“I want you and I to get to know each other. So in the next three minutes, I’d like you to take me from where you were born to where you are now, and share with me the major inflection points in your life that you think have helped form who you are today.”
“Tell me about the area that your last boss and the one before that said, ‘This is your biggest opportunity for improvement.’ ”
“What is the single biggest professional business mistake you’ve made, and what was the lesson you took from that?”
“Why would you not join our company?”
The first, the icebreaker, in that precise form will certainly test how concisely they can talk. As a candidate, I’d reframe it. You should already have something similar prepared with say, 5 bullets showcasing your suitability. As an interviewer, it’s scarily broad which I guess is partly the point.
The next three are fairly standard so it’s interesting to see that he highlights them as his favourite. They each have their place.
What is good about this insight is that the interviewer knows the characteristics he seeks to examine.
What a senior exec should avoid is repeating the earlier ‘first interview’.
To truly take a leaf out of this exec’s book, it’s a valid approach to think of the qualities you seek and devise a simple question that opens the door into them.
Where he judges highest the extent to which a candidate is vulnerable, a learner and has barriers, what traits do you value most? For someone to fit into your sales arena, I’d like to hear that people are also trying to uncover such as levels of drive, tenacity and collaboration. Pick your top three or four and off you go.