Hiring Interviews – Getting The Best Information Using The “Drill Down Questions”

In the last year, I’ve become aware of a new curiosity in the business world with the art of asking the right questions. There is a mystery connected with “drilling down” just the right way to get to the “right answer.”

In fact, I don’t think there needs to be mystery at all attached to asking “drill down questions.” It all comes down to properly using the active listening skills you probably learned early in your career—but using them differently.

First, what is a “drill down question”? My definition is that it’s a question that goes beyond the obvious. And, it is a follow-up to something the individual just said. The result is that you come to learn about the person at a deeper level—learning
what they really are thinking.

Second, it’s not only about asking the right questions. It’s also about starting by doing a lot of listening. For example, when I am interviewing candidates for hire, I spend a fair amount of the time listening for answers to well crafted questions.

Third, the most interesting questions I ask aren’t in my original list of questions. Actually, it’s questions I develop based upon the answers to the first set of questions I ask.

For example, I ask the stock question, “How do you lead and manage?” Nothing very complicated about that. But, let’s say an executive candidate answers, “I’ve long seen myself more as a leader than a manager.” My questions from there would drill
down to determine the upsides/downsides of this kind of executive leadership style, how they came to work this way, how this approach determines the diversity of management talent necessary on their team, etc. What you can see is that the first
question is merely the gateway to the more pertinent and relevant ones.

Fourth, drill down questions can only come when you have the patience to listen and understand the person being interviewed. As the interviewer, you have to be willing to give the time and effort to the interview—prepping in advance and coming to
the interview with an intensity of purpose that the interview is a critically important business activity.

“Drill down questions” get you to the core of what you want to find out. And, many times they get the candidate to the information they want to discuss. You’ll discover that this approach to interviewing will significantly increase your ability to
determine which candidates are a good fit for the position and culture. And, this style of questioning will also help candidates make the same determinations. So in the end, if the person is hired, it’s more likely good for all parties!