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An insightful interview question to put on your radar

An insightful interview question to put on your radar

Corporate Social Responsibility and an emphasis on the triple bottom line is something that many large organisations focus on today. Some will even get behind various initiatives incorporating staff rewards and staff development as part of their commitment to giving back to the community or the environment.

Interestingly enough I have always incorporated at least one question around charity or giving back to the community when meeting with candidates for the first time – not just when recruiting on behalf of my clients, but also when hiring people for my own teams. It’s amazing what it reveals about the person sitting in front of me.

I usually phrase my question along the lines of “So if you had ‘super money’ …”, or “If money wasn’t even an option …” and then I just pause for a moment and watch their expression change.

At this point most candidates assume I am about to ask them what their dream job would be. But when I then continue my question with “If you could give something back to the community, what would be it be?” their expressions change again.

Whether they start to talk about the environment, preventing hunger in Africa, fighting whale hunting in Antarctica, volunteering as a lifeguard at their local surf club, running a fundraising campaign for a children’s hospital or contributing towards research into life-threatening diseases is not important.

I am just looking for whether they are the type of person to think purely for themselves or if, for example, they have the environment or their community in mind too.

Oh and having been asking these sorts of questions for many years now, I can very quickly tell whether their response is genuine. So, perhaps the response from a contestant in a beauty pageant, “I would fight for world peace” isn’t necessarily the answer I am looking for.

So what I am suggesting here is that employers should perhaps be prepared to spend a few minutes delving into the ‘charitable’ side of potential new employees. And in addition to talking about their core skills and competencies, candidates should also be ready to discuss what role they play in the improvement of our planet.

So if you could give something back to the community, what would it be?

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