“What Else Should I Be Asking You?”

I taught a bunch of classes this week at the Software Development conference. At one interviewing class, a participant wanted to know, “How do I hear the other half of the conversation?” I asked for clarification, and he said, “Sometimes I feel as if the candidate has only said part of the answer, and if I knew how to ask other questions, I would gather more information about candidates.”

Meta questions, such as “What else should I be asking you?” or “What else should I know about?” or “What haven’t I asked you yet?” are a great technique to elicit the other half of the conversation. You may hear surprising information.

I was a contract VP in an organization, interviewing for my replacement. I interviewed one candidate, asking “What else should I know about?” He said, “I don’t like to work with women.” I picked my jaw up and said, “Oh? Tell me more.” He went on and on about how women were so emotional and couldn’t make good decisions, and more nonsense. I thanked him for his time and walked him to the door.

Meta questions might not show such egregious behavior, but they will show you another side of a candidate. Which is almost always a Very Good Thing.

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