Quality questions create a quality life. 4 questions to improve your work and your life

As Tony Robbins says, “Quality questions create a quality life”.I’ve only had a couple of job interviews in my life. I have been fortunate to have jobs that I’ve always enjoyed.

I’ve only had a couple of job interviews in my life. I have been fortunate to have jobs that I’ve always enjoyed.

What I’ve noticed is that the traditional questions people use to interview a job candidate (or when you are dating someone trying to better know that person) are inefficient, and they don’t give good information to determine if the person is a good fit for the company or for your life.

By recounting the questions I’ve been asked, and what I’ve read about the theoric “good hiring process”, I have come to the conclusion that some improvements could be made to those questions. In many cases, those questions are so wide, so poorly defined, that the other person can answer with the first thing that comes to his mind, and everything can be bullshit.

It’s not my goal to propose more difficult questions, what I propose is to ask questions that really lead to a better understanding of what the person wants and what are the qualities that could be a good fit for the company.

  1. How do you see yourself in 5 years? This is the classic question in job interviews. The problem is that is a wide question, in which the candidate can easily begin to fantasize, and, if the guy has improvisation skills, he may end up creating ideal scenarios that fit with what the interviewer is looking. But in reality, it could be not what the person is really thinking to do in 5 years.

¿What’s the real objective of this questions? If we keep them that wide, there’s no valuable information that really allows us to know the candidate. If I say that in 5 years I want to be a professional cyclist or I want to be a nuclear scientist and try to discover a new way to use nuclear energy, the person who asked me has to believe me.

It doesn’t matter if what I said it’s true or not, there’s no way that someone can prove me wrong and say it’s not going to be like that 5 years from now. The problem is that nobody asked which are the steps I want to take to accomplish those things I said.

Why improving this question? Analyze the true intention of a person on how he is going to execute what he says he wants to do in the future.

How to improve this question?

We need to add an execution component to this question. When you ask someone what they want to do 5 years from now, after he gives an answer, ask what is he doing to accomplish that.

This way, we kill two birds with a single shot. With the first question, we evaluate the prospect’s improvisation skills, his creativity and his ability to answer under pressure. But then, by complementing that with the execution question, we are evaluating if the person truly wants to do what he says he wants to do. This is an effective way to understand what is that thing that keeps the candidate awake, what are his real passions and what steps is he doing to accomplish those goals.

Personally, I’ve never liked people who talk but never do something. And that has been one of my challenges in the last years: Talk less and do more.

I hate those people who share motivational phrases in social networks…but they never do anything to really improve their life.

Analyzing the true interest to execute that people have it’s a much more reasonable way to evaluate if a person is a good fit to work with you.

  1. What is your biggest achievement? Of course, it’s important to see how a candidate sells himself, and how he talks about the value he can bring to a company. This also measures his confidence levels. The problem is that this question doesn’t allow us to know about the process.

Why improving this question? To know how much importance the person gives to the process and to the work that is behind an achievement. To understand how the person is balancing both things: the results, but also the little and constant steps that are behind every great achievement.

How to improve this question?

It’s great when people talk about the fact that Lionel Messi, being 30 years old, is one of the best soccer players in history, that he has scored more than 500 goals and has countless titles. But it’s better when people put into context all the effort that Messi had to put to achieve that greatness: At age 11, he was diagnosed with a problem in his growth hormones, so he began injecting hormones on a daily basis. At age 13, he left his home in Argentina to go to an unknown country, with unknown people, to pursue his dream. The rest is history…

That’s how I like to review the success stories. That first,  people put those achievements into context, to really value the work behind those achievements.

So, next time you ask someone “what is your greatest achievement?” also ask a second question: “Tell me about the process and the obstacles you have had to overcome to achieve that”. This way, you will be able to understand how important is the process and the “road” for that person. This will help you to see if the candidate only has short term goals, or if he believes in building value for the long term.

  1. What do you know about this company? Yes, of course it’s important that the other person is contextualized. But people focus too much on making questions about the company. What’s the point? If you hire the person, he will enough time to know every detail of the company. It’s much more important to know the person, and know how he will react to hypothetical situations.

Why improving this question? For me, it’s more important to take advantage of those few minutes that a job interview lasts, to understand the way the person thinks, and to see how he reacts when he needs to think about hypothetical problems or situations. It’s better to use that time to try to understand the mental structure and reasoning habilities of that person, instead of wasting time asking for facts about the financial reports of the company or what color is the logo. ( I have met people that have been asked this type of questions in job interviews).

 How to improve this question?

Keep always in mind the real goal of a job interview. The idea is to know better the person and understands if his way of thinking and his abilities could be useful for the position you are hiring.

Asking a lot of questions is not going to solve that need. Yes, it’s important to see if the person is prepared and contextualized for the meeting, but doing more than one question about the company is unnecessary in a first job interview.

Instead of wasting time with that kind of questions, you should be focusing on asking things that help you understand how this person approaches problem-solving and difficult situations.

  1. What are your hobbies? This question is also very wide and gives a lot of margin for the prospect to fantasize and come up with vague answers.

According to the typical interview answers, everyone loves to read, everyone exercises. And of course, everyone is super sociable and they all give the cliché answer of “ I love to spend time with my family and friends”. But how much of this information is real?

Why improving this question? Asking this question doesn’t give any interesting insights about the person and doesn’t give us any tool to understand how much this person really values his time and his personal growth.

How to improve this question?

 Go directly to the specific. Ask him what does he do during his day, how is a common day or a common week. This way, it will be difficult for the person to come up with crazy and fake answers, and you will better know how this person uses his time and how much does he value the free time he has before and after office hours.

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If you keep asking cliché and mediocre questions, you will keep having a cliché and a mediocre life…

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