Building a cohesive team is probably the most crucial element to your company’s success and as veterans will tell you, it’s no easy feat. 

Your team also has to be diverse enough to solve complex problems, but share the same set of values that create a strong culture. It’s not enough to recruit the smartest people, put them all in a collaborative space, and expect them to create magic: they have to be able to work together well and build on one another’s strengths.

This certainly makes the interview process a puzzle.

A resume only says so much. It can’t tell you about the candidate’s creative abilities, attitude, thought processes, emotional intelligence, or growth mindset, so it’s a mistake to focus an entire interview around talking about a resume. You have to learn what makes your potential team member tick and assess whether they can hang with the rest of your crew.

Early this week, I asked the business community about their most favorite interview questions and why they worked. Here are some awesome conversation deepeners:

1. What is your most significant limiting belief, how it was formed, and what effect it has on you today?

“The interviewee’s response shows a desire to have sincere, truthful, bilateral communication. Talking about a person’s limiting belief provides a measure of their self-awareness, introspection, accountability, and clarity.” - Bruce Holoubek, Contracted Leadership

2.  When you’re driving, which lane do you drive in and why?

 “It gets people talking about themselves -- viewing driving as a race, speeding and having to pass everyone, versus others who only drive the speed limit, whether or not people drive in HOV lanes, if people get speeding tickets, road rage, etc. It is helpful to throw some creative curve ball questions to get at personality and culture fit as some candidates prepare responses ahead of time.” -Amanda Ponzar, Community Health Charities

3.  If the government decided that everybody would be paid minimum wage regardless of their job title, what would you do?

“I like this question because it gives me a chance to understand whether the candidate's career plans would change if money was taken out of the equation. If they stick to the same career path, it's a good sign that they are truly passionate about this field.” -Armine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions

4. Describe the internet to somebody from the 1800s.

“I ask this question because candidates can’t prepare for brainteasers. The answer doesn’t matter nearly as much as the candidate’s ability to express his/her thought process. The candidate is forced to think on the spot and allows me to evaluate how they can handle pressure and assess critical thinking.” -Mafalda S. Halligan, ADP

5. What’s your go-to karaoke song?

“Music is a big part of both our agency and our agency culture. This question not only gives us a sense of the candidate's personality and life outside of work but also shows us if candidates are willing to have fun while being under pressure, which means they’re more likely to fit in with our existing team.” - Sharon Engle, Phear Creative

6. What is your most significant failure?

“Applicants who place an emphasis on self-learning are not only great candidates, but also interesting people. We always talk about the victories but never the defeats. What has the candidate embarked on or taken a chance on, and how did that failure go? What has she learned from it? What has she done in her life to implement those lessons?” -Jason Patel, Transizion

7. What was the last lie you told?

 “Honesty is a key value to my business so this really helps me understand, what they consider acceptable. Everyone lies at some point in life, so saying that you do not lie or can’t think of anything, is a red flag for me. What they lied about, why, and how they felt about it or how they dealt with it, tells me a lot about a person and if they will fit.” - Karla Jobling, BeecherMadden

8. You receive 3 urgent text messages when you get back from a meeting. One is from your spouse or significant other, the second is from your boss and the third is from your colleague who says she needs your help immediately. In what order do you respond and why?  

This question reveals how a candidate processes priorities and their values.  Unless you’re looking for a sycophant rule follower who only tells you what they think you want to hear by responding, “Boss first absolutely,” this question just might reveal a thoughtful, humorous, compassionate new team member.” - AmyK

Hopefully these guys inspired you to think outside the box when you go into your next interview. And if you have some great conversation-deepeners yourself, share them!