Ask the Hard Questions First

I interviewed a candidate yesterday for an operations management position. He had a great background, projected strong leadership abilities, had all the right answers. He comfortably told me about challenges he faced in his previous roles and how he handled them. We even laughed on and off through the interview. He was one of those rare candidates that you just know after ½ hour of chatting is a “done deal.”

After speaking for about 45 minutes, I started to conclude the conversation. I realized I forgot to ask him a question that I usually ask towards the beginning of the conversation. I ask him a question that I have asked hundreds of candidate before in this exact format. “We do a criminal background check. Is there anything I would need to know now?”

I was left with 5 seconds of dead silence followed by an anesthetized “yes.” He then told me told me about a felony, leaving out details. I think he knew by telling me the specific charge alone, my stomach would turn and I wouldn’t have any additional questions. He was right. He was polite as can be, just as most candidates I have encountered at this stage; they know they are not going to pass our background check and find no reason to take it out on me.

Again, remember to ask the hard questions first.