Monday, February 04, 2013

One Question to rule them all

Lately I have been interviewing, especially people with technical skills. One question that lingered in my mind for sometime is that of "the" question which would help me get the maximum out of an interview. How about one "big" question, that provides me all the layers of the candidate. It's like an elevator pitch version of interview question.

Out of all the questions I iterated through, I found one. One elegant question. One question to rule them all ;-)

Question - What are three things in your career till now you are proud of ?

Why I believe this is the elegant question :-

1. It proves that the candidate works for purpose

2. It proves the candidate is ambitious, risk taker and values his / her contribution

3. She / he cares for the work

4. Being proud of one's career highlights does not just translate to achievements or successes. It could manifest into learning points, experiences, impacts and influences.

5. The candidate thinks 

6. The candidate is upbeat, optimistic and reflects on the learnings of past.

I think this will be my question of choice in any interview - be it hiring for tech guys, managers, security guards, chefs etc.

What is your question of choice ?


  1. What are the four methods of connecting through jdbc? Please describe.
    What are the 6 prerequisites of passing an object a s a parameter?

    - Just kidding :)

    I give him an assignment or a problem to solve and see what questions he asks me.

  2. Anonymous2:32 AM

    Hi Vivek:

    Nice post!

    I would add-up to your question and re-phrase it below order:
    1) Tell me about your professional experience and future plans (Past, Current and Future)?
    2) What are your 3 biggest achievements till now?
    3) How do your achievements align with your plan?

    First question is mainly to understand if an individual is on right career path!
    Second question as you rightly pointed out to know about his/her specific learning and;
    Last question to understand if he/she is not making up things and indeed reflects his/her career path.


  3. Very good post, Vivek! Keep up the good work

  4. Rahul3:54 PM


    I agree that "asking what a person is proud of is a great question", but in my practical experience of interviewing, the nuance of the question is captured only by mid-to-senior candidates in the IT industry. More often I get an answer on the line of: I met the bar for such an such activity and the bar was very as per my reading.

    If I'm to ask that question, I'm going to use an additional framing saying, I'm looking for instances where your contribution/achievement was greatly different than somebody comparable to you.

    My do paise -Rahul