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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Gordon

Interviewing? Ask People What They Do In Their Spare Time

When someone comes to work for you, you’re agreeing to exchange a certain amount of money for their time. So during the interview process, I ask potential employees what they do in their spare time. In my experience this is the best way to understand how people use the time they give you by gaining insight into what they do when no one is paying them. The other benefit of asking this question is it makes the interview more dimensional. Too often, interviews involve one-sided questions to learn if a candidate is qualified for the job instead of recognizing whether or not the candidate and job/company are a mutual match.

The truth is the interview is just as much about whether the company can provide the right environment and opportunities for the candidate as it is about how much the candidate can offer the company. By learning about what a candidate likes to do in their free time, you can better understand their passions and their motivations. It’s about learning whether the person will be happy in the role if they take the position. It’s about learning how and where they want to grow in their career so you can make sure they’ll have the opportunity to evolve while working for you. And it's an opportunity for the candidate to get a sense of you and the company they'll be joining and spending a good portion of their time.

When we interviewed Tom at DealerScience, he shared he likes to volunteer outside of his working hours. At work, Tom is one of the most generous people with his time and is always willing to patiently explain and collaborate for the greater good. Another employee, Rachel, shared she spends her free time playing team sports and traveling. She's a fantastic teammate who was always willing to travel to visit clients.

The best hires, like Tom and Rachel (and more from the DealerScience team!), are mutually beneficial, where the employee and the company accomplish their goals together. And when employers take the time to learn about what naturally motivates their employees, they can ensure their team is satisfied and happy.

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