I walked into a conference room several years ago and sat down, ready for my interview. This time I was the candidate being vetted for a senior recruiter role and the interviewer was a member of the executive staff of an early stage software company. I had listed “drumming” as an interest of mine on my resume. The interviewer’s first question, “Keith Moon or Neil Peart? Which one is the better drummer?”, while out of the blue, was a nice ice breaker.
Some consider such questions a waste and a distraction. But as a means to put the candidate at ease, it is ideal. You are potentially going to work with this person and it just might be a good idea to see another side of them. It also helps the candidate to move from a place of uncertainty to one of comfort and openness.
Over the years, I’ve pulled similar questions from items I spied in a resume. I’ve been introduced to new aspects of fly fishing, better bird calls and improved golf swings. As an interviewer, I’ve been able to observe and listen and learn from and about candidates beyond their work skills. These questions have helped refine and improve my overall assessment and impression of the candidate. I get a 360 degree view of the whole person, not just the worker.
Helping candidates to be themselves and step away from the preconceived interviewee role will make the interview less stressful, which in turn will create a better overall impression of a company. Every interview round should be structured and planned so as not to be overly repetitive, but a few questions with a softer touch will go a long way. This strategy has helped me and my clients make better hiring decisions, which is the primary goal of every interview.
So, my interviewer and I did have a robust discussion regarding the two acclaimed drummers and came to agree that Peart was probably the better – partly because he was a gifted lyricist and more importantly, he was still alive and drumming; a conclusion upon which we agreed.