What Was Your Finest Hour?

timtolan Interviewing, Performance, Personal Brand, Recruiting, Tim Tolan

What was your finest hour? It’s a fair question and one that I like to ask candidates (in one way or another) whom I interview. What’s amazing to me is many of them have no idea of the MEGA highlight(s) of their career – or their finest hour. In other words, many have NO CLUE where they made their greatest impact or what single activity/action gave the world a glimpse of their very best.

If they say “I’m not sure” – I say “WHAT”? If they don’t have any idea, it comes across loud and clear over the phone. Worse – it becomes magnified during a live video interview. In Technicolor.

This is one of many questions that (in my opinion) candidates should be (totally) prepared to answer. It’s not about asking them to poke out their chest and babble to the world on how great they are – but instead a time for them to clearly articulate when and where they made a difference. With details, please… I want to get the specifics from candidates.

The Where, When, How and What….    

WHERE: This gives me information that I can cross verify in my reference check should they make it to the final round.

WHEN: Was this early in their career? If so, they may have a few of these stories to tell me. People have a history of repeating themselves – so the timing is important to me. 

HOW: How did the finest moment impact the organization they were working for? How did they accomplish this phenomenal feat? Were others involved? I’m curious and want to know…

WHAT: What was the outcome? How did they move the needle. I always like to hear how their accomplishment changed or impacted the people, customers or the company they worked for.

So… What was your finest hour? Each of us has a story to tell and should be (very) proud to do so. Hesitation on the part of a candidate to answer this basic question is a HUGE red flag for me. I like to understand success metrics during the interview process. It helps me to tell the candidate’s story to my clients, and they like to hear how a candidate succeeded in a previous role. Like I said before, winners repeat themselves over and over.

Losers ….Hmmmm – well, that’s a different story altogether.

Tim Tolan is a partner at Sanford Rose Associates and specializes in Executive Search in Healthcare IT. He’s a closer, and you really don’t want to call him unless you’re ready to bring out the bazooka to bag some big game. When I started Fistful, I checked four references on Tim – his wife, his kids, his pastor and a client. The references were great, even if it sounded like they were reading from a sheet of paper. I just chalked that up to them being “detail oriented” in their feedback….