With apologies to the management gurus, it's none of these:
- Why will you thrive in this position?
- What's your greatest weakness?
- Who's your role model?
- What did your parents do for a living?
- What things do you dislike doing?
- Why are manhole covers round?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What's your spirit animal?
- What's the most significant thing you've done since breakfast?
- What would you like to ask me?
Adman Bill Kircher, founder of Fixation Marketing, posed the killer question at the close of every candidate interview he conducted.
With it, he built an exceptionally creative, productive and tight-knit team; one that attracted loyal and prestigious clients, enjoyed a reputation for high quality, and earned handsome profits.
His killer interview question: What book are you reading right now?
What makes the question killer?
It's simple. Candidates didn't have to ask Bill for clarification.
It's tricky. The qualifier "right now" essentially disqualified as honest answers To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Lord of the Flies, and other sophomore-year reading assignments.
It's decisive. Hesitation, blank stares, or answers like "I mostly watch TV" eliminated candidates from consideration.
It's nondiscriminatory. Any title sufficed as a correct answer. Bill didn't care what you read, as long as it was sandwiched between two boards. After all, John F. Kennedy loved From Russia with Love. Ronald Reagan raved at a news conference about The Hunt for Red October. And friends spotted James Joyce in a cafe once reading Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Reading books proved to Bill's thinking a job candidate was curious, diligent, self-caring and culturally engaged.
And his results proved he was spot on.