Interviewing Job Candidates the VeraSage Way

My wife, Christine, recently asked me a great question, “Have you thought about developing interview questions to see what candidates thoughts are on hiring people with the core belief (or open to the possibility) for these crazy new ideas? For example, value pricing, service level agreements, firm of the future?”

Honestly, I was stumped. I really had not.

She even provided me with a great potential question – Tell me about a time when you purchased something and wanted to know the details of the costs behind it.

This really got me thinking that we need a set of potential interview questions for firm who have made the leap to being a firm of the future. So, in addition to Christine’s first question above, I present a first cut list of potential interview questions for knowledge workers.

Note: TMAATW stands for “Tell me about a time when.”

  • TMAATW you solved a particularly difficult problem.
  • TMAATW you had to bend or even break a rule at work to get your job done.
  • TMAATW you had to deal with an irate customer.
  • Tell me about you favorite customer.
  • Tell me about the last business book you have read.
  • What are your top three books of all time? Why?
  • Would you rather your performance be judged or measured? Why?
  • TMAATW you felt judged unfairly.
  • What is more important to you efficiency or effectiveness?
  • What is more important the idea or its execution?
  • When do you normally do your holiday shopping?
  • Who are your heroes? Why?
  • Who do you think is the most influential Austrian economist? (OK, I am kidding. (Sort of.))

OK, team VeraSage, now it is your turn. What additional questions would you add to the list?

PS – Now you know why I married her!


  1. TMAATW –

    – you had a project that went off the rails and what you learned from it.
    – you worked in a group and what the various group member’s roles were, including yours.
    – you had a conflict on how to solve a problem or complete a project and how it was resolved.

    What kind of projects would you pick if you had the choice. Why?

  2. I like the questions, the last one especially. I would go with Schumpeter as he was Austrian, but not of the Austrian school. I think his thoughts on understanding the dynamic economy rather than just analyzing it as static points will be critical as technology pushes advancement at an ever quickening pace.

  3. Eric Fetterolf says:

    I would extremely caution, you are not looking for litmus test answers here. You are looking for people open to change and new ideas. You are looking for people who will BRING change and new ideas. You are looking for better, not perfect. Perfect contain no room for growth.

    That aside, below are some additional interview talking points:

    TMAATW – You were introduced to a new concept that challenged your understanding of how things worked.
    How did you react?
    What pieces of the new idea did you incorporate into your personal paradigm? Why?
    What changes did your relationship with the person(s) introducing the concept undergo because of their view point?
    What lessons did you learn and how have you applied them since the incident?

    TMAATW – Someone insisted you perform your duties in a manner inconsistent with logic or reason.
    What lessons did you learn and how have you applied them since the incident?

    TMAATW – You were forced to abandon a project that would have created great benefit because the benefactor did not understand why you executed the plan in the manner you chose.
    What lessons in communication did you learn and how have you applied them?

    TMAATW ? You had to communicate to person(s) in authority above you (either customers or bosses) a new concept or paradigm that contradicted their understanding of the status of things.
    How did you approach the conversation?
    What lessons did you learn and how have you applied them since the incident?

    I ask a common question at each talking point:
    ?What lessons did you learn and how have you applied them since the incident??
    This question holds the KPI for the new hire: ?how have you applied the lessons learned?. By demonstrating a learned lesson, in both word and application, you can be more certain the new hire will learn new concepts in both word and application.


    What is more important to you: being right or being effective?

    This question has a whole forest that you can traverse behind it. Many people have to be right. They feel physical and psychological discomfort when they are wrong and react peevishly, even violently when confronted. Others have no issue being wrong, they just want to be effective and are able to adjust their behavior with no ill feelings when shown new and different methods. This also uncovers whether your new hire will listen and adapt to your customers or attempt to impose their methodology on your customers.

  4. Brenda, excellent thought. Many of the questions proposed above could be inverted by a prospect to prospective employer.

  5. Chris Jones says:

    I haven’t got the answer to this – but, its something I’d like to do myself.

    Going further up the recruitment pipeline, what would a Verasage-style CV look like? At least some of the questions above could be answered pre-emptively.

    Its something I’m trying to rework myself at the moment – focussing my cv solely on achievements rather than responsibilities. So, any ideas / hints would be fantastic.

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