In hiring, it’s maybe the single most illuminating question to ask prospective hires.
Followed, of course, by What happened? and What happened next?
One striking example:
A former VP of sales, being considered for a CEO position, was asked why he left his job. He said he had a philosophical disagreement with his boss.
Asked for more, he said it came down to a board meeting in which his boss was given a hard time because his sales numbers had fallen short by 25%.
The boss said that if they didn’t hit the target next quarter, the VP of sales would have to go.
To which the VP of sales announced that the boss’s mother “had a lot of foresight when she named you.”
The boss’s name was Richard. He went by “Dick.”
That wasn’t all. Prompted for more, the job candidate revealed that when taken into his boss’s office and fired, he slapped the boss, thereby giving him cause for the firing and losing $3 million in options.
Needless to say, the former VP of sales wasn’t hired.
— Adapted from Who: The A Method for Hiring, Geoff Smart and Randy Street, Ballantine Books.