What’s the greatest COO interview question? Is it “What are your strengths?” or “What are your weaknesses?” Maybe it’s “What can you do for this company?”
Well, actually, it’s none of those. The greatest COO interview question is much more interesting than those. It’s a question that can be used to glean insight into the candidate’s personality, values, tastes, background, decision-making ability, and so much more. Almost instantly, you’ll get a good, solid look right into the candidate’s soul.
Are you ready for it? Do you want to know what the greatest COO interview question of all time is? Well, here it is….
What is your favorite movie of all time?
How is that the greatest COO interview question?
No, that question wasn’t a joke. Of course, this blog isn’t suggesting that you hire someone based on whether or not they like Dumb & Dumber, but there is a lot you can learn from that seemingly silly little question if you dig deeper.
People come into interviews ready to answer the run-of-the-mill interview questions like, “What attracted you to this company?” and “What can you bring to this company?” They’ve likely rehearsed their responses to all those standard questions. That means that you probably won’t learn much only from those other than the fact that they’re good at preparing for interviews. When you’re hiring anyone, but especially a leader like a COO, you need to ask strategic questions to learn more.
Using the unexpected
By tossing in an oddball, unexpected inquiry like this, the applicant is forced to go off script and answer on the fly. Its unexpectedness is what makes it the greatest COO interview question. The answer itself is almost always inconsequential (depending on how passionate you are about movies). It’s the candidate’s reaction, thought process, and level of comfort in dealing with the unexpected that you should be watching for.
Unconventional is certainly one way you could describe this interview question. A good interviewer strives to find the balance between finding out what they need to know about the person and seeing how they react to unexpected situations.
Try this strategy
One way of finding the balance is this:
Ask two or three ‘traditional’ questions about a person’s job history. Then, hit them with something hugely unexpected like the greatest COO interview question or something unexpected in a different way like, “Why have you always let people tell you what to do?”
This is also a great interview question for two reasons. One, it’s useful for you to know why this person has never sought a leadership position before. Two, it’s admittedly harsh and wholly unexpected. Because of that, the way the person answers will tell you so much.
Reactions to look for
When asking an unexpected question like, “Why have you always let people tell you what to do?” take note of these three things:
- Do they get angry and defensive?
- Do they stay calm and explain the situation?
- Do they stammer and talk in circles?
You want to hire confident, level-headed people that can capably deal with a crisis and unanticipated situations, especially when they’re in a leadership position like COO.
Learn as much as you can with the basics and the unexpected
You can and should still ask the basic questions as well. Get the interviewee to tell you about the time they disagreed with a customer and how they handled it. Ask them to list their top three workplace accomplishments. They are after all great, tried and true interview questions.
Still, don’t forget to dig into your bag of tricks and keep them off balance. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn by asking questions like the greatest COO interview question of all time. Besides, do you really want to hire someone who thinks Twilight is a cinematic masterpiece?
Check out this blog to learn about what to do after the interview process and what mistakes to avoid.
Do you ask any unexpected questions when you’re interviewing someone? Have you ever been asked an absurd question? Let us know in the comments below!
If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2017 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.