The Single Best Question for Job Applicants

Ask applicants what they do when they're not working
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2009 12:28 PM CST
Chesley Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who landed in New York's Hudson River, attends a celebration in his honor on Jan. 24, 2009, in Danville, Calif. At left is wife Lorrie Sullenberger.    (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
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(Newser) – Hiring tends to be a total crapshoot, Peter Bregman writes in a Harvard Business Review blog. But you'll get better results if you ask applicants one question: What do you do in your spare time? Hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger flies gliders for fun and used to build intricate models. "Perhaps that attention to detail explains why he walked through the cabin twice" after landing safely on the Hudson, Bregman notes.

Managers tend to favor well-rounded candidates without obvious personality quirks. "But people are often successful not despite their dysfunctions but because of them," Bregman writes."Obsessions are one of the greatest telltale signs of success."