One Question photo from ShutterstockEveryone interviews. Even the boss had to go through an interview process.

There is ONE Interview Question that you should be ready to address.

Some interviewers are very good at what they do. Some are not quite so good. The good interviewers will let you do the majority of the talking. They should already know what they know. The good interviewers will sit back and listen. Not to catch you in a trap or some other Machiavellian machinations. Rather, they are looking for the right candidate to fill the role.

Smart Interviewers are often looking for something else too. That can be anything from initiative, reflection (on the questions that are asking you to answer) and for that One Thing that makes you stand out from other candidates. Knowing the answer to The One Interview Question can help set you aside as The One Candidate to move to the top of the heap.

Take the Initiative

Whether they ask it or not… be ready to answer the following question.

Tell me about the first experience in your life when you realized that you had the power of change or the power to do something meaningful.

By thinking about and being prepared to answer this question you will be showing off a few traits that every interviewer should be looking for. These are traits that every employer should be looking for when adding talent to their organization. Smaller companies need people with more diverse skills, but everyone has to start somewhere. Larger companies are often looking to fill specific talent gaps. Thinking about how you have addressed, accomplished or perhaps failed in a challenging situation will help you interview better. It will help you come across as more well rounded and as someone that has thought about the things that have made you into what you are today.

Using The One Interview Question

A few advantages of thinking about and crafting a response to The One Interview Question are that it puts you in a better position to evaluate both the roles your are considering and to the questions the interviewers are asking. You’ve likely put a lot of thought and time into the types of roles you are considering. Perhaps driven by your major in college or perhaps by something else. By thinking about The One Interview Question you will be able to project the following traits that should come across in an interview situation.

  • Knowing Yourself
  • Understanding Your Strengths
  • Realizing your Potential

Depending upon how you want to position yourself your response can also include your Awareness of your Weaknesses. This is NOT to say you are weak. However, knowing your weaknesses is at least as important as knowing your strengths. If you haven’t taken the time to read Marcus Buckingham’s book “Now, Discover Your Strengths” this would be a good time to add it to your reading list.

For example, you may be extremely detail oriented or you may be the complete opposite. Either trait may be fine for the role you are being interviewed for. However, if you know they are looking for one trait or skill set over another you may be able to tailor your response. Also, knowing your strengths and weaknesses will also help you insure you are interviewing for the right roles. Don’t waste your time interviewing for roles that you know you will not be satisfying.

Other Benefits of Using The One Interview Question

Having thought through the One Question also shows the softer side of the skills you have been developing, including communication skills, interview skills (which is almost more of an art these days) and it highlights your authenticity.

As noted above… even if the interviewer doesn’t ask this question they will likely ask something similar. If they don’t even come close you can look for ways to slip your thoughts into a conversation. Not in a disingenuous way. Rather as a way to highlight your skills.

Slipping The One Interview Question into the Conversation
Most interviewers will always ask something like:
“Is there anything else I should know about you?”

This is a great chance to say …
“well, I’d like to share with you the first time I realized I had the power to make a difference.”

Knowing the answer to The One Interview Question and being able to articulate it in a meaningful way will help you Stand Out in your Interview. Which speaks volumes for how you will stand out in your career. Smart interviewers will be looking for these skills and traits.

Now will be a good time to think about The One Interview Question. If it helps you to get started you might want to think about something other than the First Time. However, do take the initiative to really think back to the first time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful. Then craft your response to The One Interview Question and practice how you will deliver it in your next interview.

Good Luck and Good Interviewing!

Note: The One Interview Question was posed by Simon Anderson, CEO of DreamHost, in this interview.