When I’m hiring, I have one very favorite interview question. It’s not a tricky one – no Google-style math, no hidden meaning. I ask:
What was your favorite job, and why?
I want to know if the things you like in a job and a workplace match up with what we can actually offer. Very few answers will knock you out of the running, but many answers will lead to follow-up questions. (If you tell me you liked the last job because it didn’t trap you behind a desk, well, you’re probably out of the running for any job I am hiring for.)
If your favorite job involved working alone and our vacancy is for a member of a team with lots of social interactions, I’ll ask some follow-up questions to make sure there’s a fit. If your favorite job was in a fast-paced environment and we’re the slow and careful types, I’ll ask follow-up questions. If you liked the freedom and responsibility of your last job and know that your boss will be a micro-manager, I’ll ask follow-up questions.
I know a lot of people like gimmicky questions, but I don’t really see the point. I just want to get to know a person and how they do their work.