Interviews are fun things, I have had the opportunity to participate in an number of interviews in the past few months and I have heard some amazing questions and some amazing answers to questions.

Most people I know who do this semi-regularly have some questions they always ask or some observations they always try to make. One of my friends claims to always ask “how many diapers are changed in the US in an year” the point being to see if the candidate can answer the question, or how they might go about working through the answer or if they just dismiss it all together.

I do this well this as well, I typically ask “What are the top 5 songs on your iPod?” Or “What is your favorite movie?” or both. The iPod question usually tells me 1) if they are a technophobe or not 2) if they are an Applephobe or not and 3) what type of music they listen to.

I also ask a question that I think is one of the most important questions in an interview, I ask for 3 quotes from The Princess Bride. Now I know that seems really odd, but hear me out.  This is an important question because I have learned that it is possible for me to determine if people are compatible with me as a friend based on the answer.  All my close friends could do this easily and would get a huge kick out of being asked this in an interview because they would find it disarming, fun and easy to answer. I Also like to be friends with my coworkers, so this is an easy way to check that compatibility.

Now I know I am making a snap judgement here, just because someone has never seen the movie it doesn’t mean we can’t ever be friends, but really that’s what an interview is, it’s taking the time to try and learn about some one to make an informed judgement. So if the interviewee finds this and easy question and laughs about the fact they have been asked it, then there is a good chance we could be friends.  That means I will enjoy working with them and we will have each others back… and guess what all the “other stuff” we can work on.

Now I have gotten all kinds of answers to this question, some times it’s the easy answers- “as you wish”, “any body want a peanut” or “Inconceivable!”, some times it the more obscure quotes, and sometimes I get the sheepish “I have never seen the movie.” While I would never not hire some one for not knowing the movie, but of the people that we have hired that I have interviewed only 2 were not able to do this.  One of them left for another job less then 6 months later, and the second one was the hire that replaced him… so I am hoping he breaks the status quo. So with a better then 90% retention rate with people I asked this question that are still here, I would say it works.

What questions do you ask when you interview people? what questions do you like to get asked when you are being interviewed?