I’ve asked this question in countless job interviews, and discovered that it’s an effective way to evaluate soft skills such as self-awareness, empathy, and honesty.
Many managers find it easier to test for hard skills than soft skills during an interview process. When it comes to technical aptitude, the candidate can either demonstrate the necessary chops, or they can’t. When it comes to self-awareness or empathy, however, the evaluation criteria becomes far more murky.
I consider self-awareness, honesty, and empathy to be critical qualities in the folks I work with — arguably more important than their job knowledge. How do I test for these competencies? With a single, powerful question — one that was once posed to me as a candidate, and easily my favorite of all time.
Here it is:
“Think of someone you didn’t jibe with at work. How do you think that person would describe you?”
Having asked this question on countless interview panels, I’ve observed that answers tend to fall into one of three distinct camps.