04 Apr Former Microsoft HR boss gives answer to one question that ‘makes or breaks’ job interviews
A former Microsoft HR boss has shared the one question that ‘makes or breaks’ a job interview – and while it’s probably one you’d be able to answer if you racked your brain for a moment, it might not be something you’d expect.
Interviews can be stressful at the best of times, right? You’ve spent ages preparing spiel about your drive and determination, or examples of times you’ve managed to lead a team effectively… only to be asked what animal you’d be and why.
If you won £10 million, what would you do with it? Is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
I DON’T KNOW.
Thankfully, however, the one question backed by the former VP of HR at Microsoft is a surprisingly simple one.
Chris Williams, who is also a podcaster, consultant and TikTok creator, always asks candidates the same question.
Writing for Insider, he explained: “There are a few important things I’m looking for when hiring. I want to see a smart, passionate learner who can communicate.
“Someone who can dive right into whatever challenge comes their way. A person who will promptly learn what they need to and help others by sharing what they’ve learned.”
For Williams, it all hinges on one question, which he likes to ask ‘shortly after the pleasantries’, as it helps set the tone of the interview while also prompting ‘great conversation’.
He asks: “Tell me something you’ve learned in the last couple of days.”
Williams said it doesn’t necessarily have to be about work – it could be ‘anything, just something you’ve learned very recently’.
He says a ‘great’ candidate will have a ready answer, continuing: “Maybe they’ve learned how to format pivot tables in Excel. Perhaps it’s how to make a better battle bot. Could be the history of a poet they love. Or how to teach their child to ride a bike. Maybe it’s how to cook leeks.
“I’ve seen people talk about games they love and sports they’ve just picked up. One positively lit up about racing cars. Their passion for the details mixed with the adrenaline of the sport was fun to listen to. And their fascination for the connection between the electronic and mechanical technology told me they would be great in the project I was hiring for.
“A great communicator will know how to frame their passion for the topic. They will make it easy to share what they’ve learned. Their enthusiasm will show through.
“If you get a candidate who looks at you blankly, and says essentially “I’ve got nothing,” you have an issue. It doesn’t happen often; most people have something they’ve learned, something they can share.”