You might recall that this was formerly known as the most important interview question of all time.

But a few years ago I found a better one.

The idea came about when a talent leader at a SmartRecruiters conference asked me to interview her using the original question.

But since she knew what it was, I changed the question a bit and asked this instead:

Can you tell me about your most significant team accomplishment of all time? 

To better understand the power of this question, imagine I’m interviewing you and I ask you to describe your most significant team accomplishment of your entire career. What team accomplishment would you pick and how would you describe it?

After providing a quick overview, how would you answer the following clarifying questions?

  • Who was on the team? Describe everyone including peers, superiors, customers, vendors and any staff members.
  • How did you get on the team and what role did you play?
  • Did your role change during the project and if so, how and why?
  • What were the big objectives of the team and were they met? How did you influence these results?
  • What was your biggest contribution to the team? How were you recognized formally for this?
  • Who did you influence the most? Did you coach anyone? Did anyone coach you?
  • What did you like most about the team? Least?
  • How did you become a better team player as a result of this effort?
  • Did anyone on the team ask you to be on other teams as a result of your effort?

Now imagine I ask about two other major team accomplishments at different times and situations.

The trend of a person’s team accomplishments provides tremendous insight about the candidate.

Growth in the size, scope, scale and importance of the teams indicates the candidate is respected and trusted by managers and other people in the company. How and why the person got selected reveals technical skills, work quality, reliability, cultural fit, and the ability to deal with a broad variety of different people including those in other functions.

In fact, these questions provide enough evidence to assess most of the 10 factors on our Quality of Hire Talent Scorecard. That’s why I now consider it the most important interview question of all time.

What did it reveal about you?