Hiring? Here’s a Great Question to Ask Senior Professionals | No BS Hiring Advice

When you hire a senior professional, you want to make sure that they are self-aware, right? Here’s a question that will challenge people.

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I thought we'd offer a question to you as an HR professional, more importantly, as a hiring manager, because I think the hiring manager's really going to be the ideal person to ask this question. And the question is, well, let me just back up for a second.
Most job hunters are prepared with information about what they've done and how they went about it, spun in a way to always talk about the positives, right? Have you ever heard a story that basically translates into, "well, I screwed that one up!"
Well, fundamentally that's what I'm going to ask you to ask them, Now the question is, "tell me about your failure resume." When they look at you stunned, say, "I'm sure you've accomplished a lot of great things, but you've also blown a couple of things along the way, too. I want learn about those, as well," and the key for you is not being overly critical except if they don't reveal anything.
If they say, "no, I never made a mistake. I've never failed at anything I've done," lie. Lie lie in much the same way as when you ask other behavioral interview questions to get a sense of a person and their self-awareness. Well, here's an example of one, too.
After all, if they worked on projects or programs where they made mistakes that have been costly, they've interacted with a boss, a division head, a team member, an employee, someone and they misspoke and hurt someone.
Talking about the mistakes that people make becomes a way that s/he can get a sense whether the leader that you're hiring is self-aware enough to understand the impact of their work.
Another great example. You know, I didn't go to bat for someone I really should have. By the time I went to bat, they were out the door. It was too late. They already committed elsewhere," or "I wasn't aware enough that there were those problems on my team. They hid it from me."
Well, look at that one example. There are problems on my team and they didn't trust them enough to let you know. How did that come about? And you want to get them talking with you about the mistake that they made and what they learned from it.
I have another question that talks about, "Tell me about a professional mistake you made and what you learn from it. After all, everyone makes mistakes. I make mistakes; you make mistakes. Tell me about a professional mistake you made and what you learn from it." Great question!
This is another way of approaching that question. And I think it's more impactful to talk about a "failure resume" and you can say, "I'm not talking about when you were in college. I want to get a sense of who you are as a professional and to get a sense of the mistakes that you made and what you learned from it."


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1300 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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