Employers on Reddit were asked: "What is one thing someone has said or done in an interview that made you want to hire them on the spot?" These are some of the best answers.
The riddler and the heartbroken.
I was hiring a busboy for a restaurant I managed. I always liked to ask if it was possible to steal something other than a physical object. The answer I would look for was yes. Especially time. One kid answered yes. So I asked him to give an example. He said someone’s heart. And then he got all teary eyed. Turned out his gf had just broken up with him right before the interview. I hired him on the spot. He is now the assistant manager and one of the best employees I’ve ever had.
I sense something…a presence I’ve not felt since…
I was hiring for a programmer position and I decided to just Google his name. Turns out he also owns a Darth Vader outfit and puts it on to go visit sick kids in the hospital.
I hired him so fast it would make your head spin.
You found us! You’re hired.
I was hiring for a graphic design position and had a number of resumes on my desk. One guy had actually reached out to me personally through our website, and I just told him to email his resume to our job inbox.
We had just moved to a new office, and I posted a photo one morning to our Facebook page showing the new view off to our fans. That afternoon, he showed up at our office in a suit and tie, asked for the job, killed the interview and got it. He figured out the general area we were in from the photo, called the various office buildings to ask ahead, found us, and just showed up. 2 years later, he’s still there and doing an absolutely fantastic job
Whoa, what an attitude.
I was looking to hire for a position that wasn’t necessarily entry-level, but it wasn’t exactly a middle management job. I needed someone with expertise in the given field, but also willing to start from the bottom – so to speak. I met with tons of people, some overqualified and some entirely unaware of what to do. However, I met one guy and the first thing he said on the interview landed him the job on the spot: “I’m going to admit that I don’t know as much as the job requires. But you know what sets me apart from those who do? I’m willing to learn. I won’t have an ego. I’m willing to take direction and admit when I’m wrong. I’m a sponge, ready to absorb anything you’ve got.”
He was the best employee I’ve ever had.
The secret test
I got a job once because they used to ‘test’ people by making them wait in the lobby for a while. Most people played on their phone, some read magazines, I simply sat quietly and 45 minutes later the guy simply comes out of a door and says “As long as you didn’t lie on your application you’ve got the job” Apparently I was the only person in 20-30 applicants who didn’t do anything but wait. Goes to show you that military and police training (i.e. learning to do nothing, be bored, and not show it) comes in handy.
Smells a little bit like destiny to me.
We were hiring for a specific position and had arranged a number of interviews for it from pre-screened applicants. As we had to play with real people’s real schedules, we ended up with the strongest candidate (UC Berkeley Ph.D.) going first. He did very well in the interview and it was kind of a given that we’d hire him.
This left us in an awkward spot with one very interesting interview with someone completely without a degree. However, there were budget restrictions so this was a long shot.
Meanwhile, inside the company, we had a fairly complex technical problem going on. Instead of just having a “hi… bye” interview with this other guy, we threw our complex problem at him about 24h before the interview. The [guy] solved it before the interview and did it really quite brilliantly.
At that point, I was willing to go to the ropes to get him.
The right attitude.
I never “hire on the spot”, as I always give some thought to the decision even when I’m very positive about someone.
However, I usually give screening tests to candidates. I had one young, inexperienced candidate that did not even pass the first screening question. Afterwards asked me to show him the correct answer and said something along the lines of “Thanks for showing me that I have a lot to learn.” I asked if he wanted some pointers & ended up lending him a book on the subject. A few days later I decided that that’s the attitude I’d like to hire and gave him the green light. Did not regret.
Sounds like she was qualified!
I hired someone for giving me a dirty look in an interview.
Allow me to preface this by saying I really despise the interview process; I find that a person’s resume generally tells me everything I need to know and for me, the interview is merely a formality to ensure the applicant doesn’t have any personality or hygiene issues.
That said, I was hiring a desktop tech. I had a really stupid question that went something like “If I give you this, this and this piece of information would you be able to connect a PC to our domain?” The correct answer was yes.
Three applicants stammered and stuttered and said they figured they could but might need a little practice. The fourth applicant looked at me like I was insane but answered in the affirmative with no hesitation.
I hired her on the spot.
Simple, honest, effective, whoa!
Post most of the interview, when we’ve turned to “Do you have any questions for us?”, the guy said, really matter-of-fact and not at all obsequiously, “Well, I’d like to know if there’s anything that we’ve talked about that has left you with doubts about me, so I can be sure you’ve got the information you need when you’re considering my fit.”
It was so simple, but so honest and effective because it was phrased as, ‘i want to help you be thorough’, but also quite self-serving because it got out in front of those doubts — we were immediately amazed that no one asks this. I’m never going to not ask it again (not that I’m looking, in case my boss has a line to the NSA).
The little things.
On the way to the conference room for the interview, interviewee instinctively picked up a gum wrapper off the floor and threw it in the nearest trash can. I just caught this peripherally, and he made no effort to show off his “insignificant good act.”
Honestly, I have never hired a single person on an impulse or based on something clever they said/did in an interview. It’s about qualifications and overall leaving a good impression. Trash-boy did get hired, and his simple act was really representative of him being pleasant and thoughtful. He also had several years experience in field.
I’ve been hiring for years, I do pick up on little things… sometimes a gum wrapper can distinguish one candidate from the others.
It’s the thought that counts.
He stalked me and found out my birthday was that week. Came to the interview with a cupcake from Georgetown Cupcakes and awkwardly sang me Happy Birthday in front of all the other interviewees.
I ended up firing him a month later for being terrible at everything.
The trench coat treasure.
I was interviewing people for a seasonal outside job, and I was doing the interviewing inside the marketing dept in an available office. This young kid with long hair, a spiked dog collar, upside-down crosses for earrings and a trench coat was my next interview and as we were walking to the office I was using, I noticed several marketing staff whispering and staring with shocked expressions at this kid. He walked with confidence and waited for me to sit down before he did, he was very polite and made excellent eye contact and gave me the best interview of the day.
When I explained that since this was a position dealing with the public and children and told him the earrings and dog collar would have to go, should he be hired, without hesitation he removed them and gave me this charming grin and I hired him on the spot and told him he was the most genuine person I had interviewed so far. He turned out to be one of my best employees and was hired full-time and stayed with me for 5 years.
Ancient wisdom surrounds you, my child.
I asked her how she would go about a specific task. She said, “I don’t know how, but I’m confident I could Google it and learn quickly.”
Amazing how many people don’t do that.
That’s called taking it raw.
I was interviewing a lady and asked, “What’s your proudest achievement?” She teared up a bit and responded, “When my daughter told me that even though I’m still overweight, she was just happy that I wasn’t on crack anymore.” Honesty is the best policy folks.
When I worked at KFC, I interviewed a guy that had just been fired from McDonald’s. He told me how he messed up, said he had just had a kid, and was kicked out of his house. The fact that he was completely honest with me was impressive. He promised he would not make the same mistake working for me. I took a chance on him, and he wound up being one of the best employees I ever had.
She’d need to get high.
While doing a group interview (letting my team of 10 or so interview 3 or 4 candidates at the same time) we got on the subject of zombie survival.
Our key zombie survival guy talked about getting upstairs, so you were higher than the zombies. I asked one candidate “What is the first thing you’d do if zombies were attacking?”
Her answer – the first thing I’d do is get high. What she meant was, she’d go upstairs in a building. What she said was “I’d get high”.
The room was silent for about 2 seconds before everyone erupted in laughter. It took her a minute to realize what she’d said. She also had a cat named Batman (and was smart, capable, and had the necessary skills.)
Is that your heart on your sleeve I see?
When I was hiring for a new store opening for a Best Buy in Trumbull, CT, there was this 19-year-old guy from Puerto Rico dressed in jeans and a tucked in polo shirt. Everyone else was in suits, etc. I knew this was Best Buy and not the FBI, so I wasn’t so judgmental with the clothing as the other “managers” were.
He was so nervous; he was shaking, and he was completely silent nearly the whole time. At one point, I even asked him if he spoke English and if he understood my questions. He said, “Yes sir.” I then asked, “Are you nervous?” He responded, “Yes sir, I am very nervous. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. . . ” When I asked why he was so nervous about a job in retail, he replied, “I just got into the US this week. I came here because my girlfriend from here got pregnant when she came to visit me, so I moved here. Now, I just need a job to support her and be a good father and husband.” I told him to come back tomorrow and started paying him the next day.
That was 2004. He was the best, most punctual, diligent, polite and loyal employee I ever had. And through my pre-law school years there, I went through about 1,200 employees. Last I heard, he was a GM of his own store. I am not positive, but I estimate that salary is about $90k plus bonus.
Shoulda hired the girl.
I always enjoy the Strength/Weakness question because the weakness portion makes everyone so uncomfortable. I was interviewing two people for a hotel front desk position. The girl, who I interviewed first, said that her weakness was that she would get upset if a customer was mean to her (not gunna fly in the hotel industry). The next guy came in and when I asked him he said: “I dunno, I smoke cigarettes.”
Best answer I ever received. Hired him on the spot. He was one of my best employees for three months until he got taken away by state police during one of his shifts for being an accomplice to a heroin ring that was run by his brother who he lived with.
Trapped under a body.
One of my hiring questions is, “Tell me about a time you made a mistake doing a job. Tell me what happened and what you learned from it.” One girl said, “Well, this story is kind of gross and might not be what you want, but it’s what comes to mind right away.”
Then she told me about a time during her medical internship at a local hospital where she tried to prove herself to a skeptical doctor by taking a large dead body down to the morgue by herself, even though she had never gone down before and was supposed to take someone else with her. She was a tiny girl, but in good shape and apparently, when she got down there she was supposed to move the body from the gurney to a slab (which is why she was supposed to go down with another person). She tried to move it on her own, but failed to lock the wheels on the gurney first and ended up on the floor, pinned under a large dead body for over fifteen minutes before anyone found her.
She said that from that she learned to follow procedures and to not be too cocky to ask for help when she needed it. I didn’t see how I could not hire her after that story. Because it was so genuine and atypical from the usual answers I heard for that question.
Stronger than yesterday! Now it’s nothing but my waa-eee-aayy!
When I asked him about overcoming challenges he told me that when he began studying in the US he couldn’t swim. So he signed up for lessons and over the coming weeks, surrounded by little kids, he learned. He told me that he was still afraid so every week he forced himself to swim a length until he wasn’t afraid. He’s turned out to be a fantastic employee.
One smooth rider.
Asked me what he could focus on to improve his experience, and where we were trying to improve, so he could improve outside of the organization, in case we didn’t hire him. Because he wanted to work for us, if not now, then in the future.
Know your television.
Occasionally, when interviewing, I’ll quote from a random show (something that makes sense in context). 99.9% of the time, people won’t notice. But once, I quoted Arrested Development and later during the interview she quoted another line as a response and casually winked. She knew, and I hired her on the spot.
However, she was also the most qualified candidate…so…
The Question no one is prepared for.
My favorite question to ask in an interview regardless of the position is: “How do you think you might cost me money?” You will always get an honest reaction, no one is prepared for that question and almost every person says they won’t, which is untrue.
But one guy said “Well…..I like enchiladas a lot…..and I have IBS….so I may rack up your toilet paper expenses”
Hired him on the spot, honesty, and hilarity in one package. I figured at the very least he would be entertaining to work with.
‘Tis the spirit!
Interviewing a girl for her first job out of university as a software developer. I asked her if she had anything else she wanted to say at the end: “I know I didn’t have the answers to all your questions, but what I don’t know, I will learn”. Hired.
The true solution.
On a technical interview for computer stuff…
Me: if you come across a problem you’ve never seen before, how to approach it?
Soon to be new employee: I’d Google it.
This is the best answer. Most people go crying to vendors or support contracts before doing a simple Google search, and I find that offensive.
He never forgets.
They pretended to be a Harvard law school grad to get away from the cops so they wouldn’t arrest him for the briefcase full of pot that he had in his hand.
I was ready to kick him out there and then, but he told me this crazy story about how he had a bet with someone that he could pass the LSATs without taking a single law school class and he was as trained as any one of the grads waiting for an interview in the hallway.
I didn’t believe him, but then he told me to open the law book I had on my desk and read from any page. I started halfway down on a random page, but after the first few words, he took over and read the rest of the sentence by himself. I was slightly gobsmacked for a moment, thinking who is this guy? I pulled myself together and asked him how he did that.
He replied, “I like to read, and once I read something I understand it, and once I understand it I never forget it”.
How could I not hire him after all of that?
Take the time.
The last person I hired was a nursing student. She took the time to make up a two-month schedule of her classes and clinicals, printed it out, and brought it to the interview. That really impressed me._If she was going to take the extra time and effort to do something as simple a make a schedule, she would probably put that same time and effort into all of her work. I was right and she is my best employee. She is my right-hand now. Before she came along, I didn’t have anybody that cared enough to help me out. Now I can just leave instructions and she gets it done. I don’t have to try to do everything on my own now. _I live in a college town and the only people I’ve interviewed so far are college students. I know this is a small thing and seems pretty obvious, but you wouldn’t believe the idiots who have wasted my time.
How to make enemies at your new job before you’re even hired.
I was told I got my last job because, towards the end of the interview, I advised them of some of the inappropriate behaviour their receptionists were displaying whilst I waited in the foyer (Mocking customers/visitors and generally being unpleasant). One of the people sat in on the interview later said it took balls to challenge it in such a setting and won me the job. The receptionists were later disciplined and were not so friendly to me when I started working there!
Well hey now, it’s not their fault.
I had been recruited previously by this other guy and I was curious what would happen, so I showed up. They ushered me and a bunch of other late 20’s something guys for a room for testing. The chairs they had were really freaking uncomfortable, I guess they had a horrible budget or just bad taste in comfy chairs. Anyways, they start handing us these paper tests, no desk or anything to even write on. I see these guy failing at trying to write down their answers, so I do the most logical thing I can, I drag this heavy ass desk to my side and prepare to complete the test like a boss. The rest of the guys look like dummies and needless to say I make it in, the hours are long but it has a good 401k.
That magic touch.
When I was the Manager of a bar I interviewed a young guy for a bartender position. Nothing he said in the interview stood out, but the handshake he gave me was magical. Probably the best handshake I have ever received. I hired him on the spot.
Note: Comments have been edited for clarity.