Hiring Wisdom: What I Would Ask If I Could Only Ask 1 Interview Question

Illustration by istockphoto.comIllustration by istockphoto.com

If I could ask only one question in an interview, it would be …

Here is the one question I would ask in an interview as well as some, but not all, of its follow up parts: “Tell me about the very first thing you ever did to earn money.

  • How did you get that job?
  • What were the three most important things you learned there?
  • Did you like it?
  • What did you do with the money?
  • What is the one thing you’re most proud of accomplishing there?
  • Tell me about your boss.
  • How long did you last at it?
  • What were your duties when you started?
  • What were your duties when you left?
  • What made you leave?
  • Where did you go next?

More good questions

If you’ll send your favorite interview question to lhamel@melkleiman.com, we’ll send you our list of the next four most important questions to ask.

This was originally published in the August 2013 Humetrics Hiring Hints newsletter.

  • Mark J

    I like the general idea of creating a timeline. I’m very interested in understanding the road the applicant took to reach the interview. Often times my interview peers seem to get impatient with that line of questioning; they would rather look AHEAD and find out, e.g., where the candidate sees themselves in 5 years. I’m not so much interested in the future, for it can be completely fabricated. Not so with the past. It’s a done deal. That’s why it’s called history. Good article

  • Mark J

    (of course the past can be fabricated too, but at least we have ways of validating it)

  • debster

    Great article… and its not only about where they have been, but what role did they play in what happened to them. Did they ever go after a job, were they ever fired and learned from it, what did they learn about themselves from their favorite job (or their mosted hated job). I think they history of where they have been can be a significant predictor of how they will be for your company. Just my two cents.