Lou Adler, CEO of the Adler Group, a consulting firm and author of The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired recently wrote an article for Inc.com.  In this brief article, Adler answers the question, What is the only interview question that matters.  He promises that this single question will provide depth and breadth of insight needed to “reach a fast, unanimous . . . decision.”  Whether you are an interviewer or potential employee, this information in invaluable.

This 36 year recruiting industry veteran took 10 years to find a question that would yield a unanimous agreement from hiring managers.  His quest began after realizing that “more than 90 percent of hiring managers think they’re good interviewers, yet rarely . . . reach unanimous hiring decision . . .”.  The question Adler found is so simple, yet incredibly powerful:

What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?

Unpacking the answer to this question is all in delving into the details, Adler writes.  He warns, “Don’t spend time asking clever interview questions.”  Listen to the answer, and begin to connect the dots, so to speak.  The secret is not in the question.  Adler just defines that as a setup.  The secret is the details that are foundational to the accomplishment.  From this question you can ask follow up questions and gain insight into why the person was chosen for the task, challenges faced, management style, how they measure success, technical skills, mistakes made, personal and professional growth. etc.  Adler assures, “after you hire a few people this way, [you too] will call it the most important interview question of all time.”

What accomplishment would you share?