Recruiting and Staffing

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

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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.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.
  • 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.