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September 26, 2017

How to Assess Self-Awareness in a Hiring Interview

One of our client companies is a technology startup that’s growing quickly. They’re working in a competitive field and want to move quickly to develop the best technology, so they’re deeply concerned about hiring the best people. But equally important to them is hiring people who are conscious — people who are aware of the impact they are having on the rest of the team and choose to respond creatively to challenges instead of blindly thrashing around in their own drama and blame.

The leaders of this company know that it’s not enough to have talented people — all of their competitors have that. Many  talented—and even well-meaning—people can create a lot of drama in a culture if they lack self-awareness, which can translate into significant cultural, productivity, and bottom-line costs.

These leaders know that an important differentiator for their company is to have a team that’s conscious and focused not just on having the best answers, but on how they are as a team. They know that having even one extremely talented but unconscious colleague exacts a huge toll on the rest of the team.

Conscious employees, on the other hand, are less likely to cause drama, and more likely to shift out of it when it happens. They’re able to relate from trust versus fear, which results in more energy, connection, and innovation.

Here are some questions this team, and you, can use to discover how conscious your potential hires are:

  • Describe a time when you were tempted to blame someone else for something but instead resolved it by owning your part of the issue.  
  • What’s an example of how you used your emotional intelligence to be effective in your role?
  • What percentage of agreements do you currently keep with the people you live and work with?  What causes you to break agreements the most? How do you approach broken agreements?
  • Describe a recent sensitive conversation. Either a time when you delivered feedback that may have been hard for the other person to hear, or a time when you revealed something about yourself that was vulnerable in service of connection or creative collaboration. How did the conversation go? What did you learn?
  • What are your favorite ways to bring play into your work?
  • When is the last time you remember appreciating someone out of the blue at work? What did you appreciate them for?
  • Where do you experience a sense of scarcity the most in your life?
  • Tell me about a time when you were convinced you were right about something but then came to change your mind. 

If you want to learn about the zone of genius that the prospective new employee can offer to your organization, consider having them fill out our Best Stuff Handout before the interview. The handout asks them to describe their top eight favorite memories from their life when they felt like they did a great job while having fun.

Another benefit of asking questions like the above is that interviewees will grok that self-awareness is a core company value and that their own will be valued, which may influence their choice to take the position should you offer it. Talk about a win-for-all!  Let us know how it goes when you try out these questions or if you have favorites of your own to assess self-awareness during interviews.

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Diana Chapman
Founding Partner
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