Hiring Managers and Recruiters spend hours screening candidates. Many companies use behavioral interview guides or have pre-identified questions to help reveal a candidate’s fit with a company’s culture and values.

Questions like:

“Tell me about a time you faced a conflict with a co-worker? How did you handle that and what was the result?”

“Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on and how did you get through it?”

“What is your proudest professional accomplishment?”

While these types of questions are very commonly-used (and even necessary to be able to objectively evaluate multiple candidates), why is it that Hiring Managers still make the occasional “bad hire”? Often times it’s someone whose personality or work ethic doesn’t quite fit with the team or company culture. And the Recruiter is left wondering how they didn’t recognize it in the interview.

It’s not enough to ask a candidate “what’s your biggest weakness?” since they may lack the self-awareness to even know their weaknesses. Or better yet, some candidates answer the question by offering a positive trait. Like “my biggest weakness is that I’m too meticulous” or “I like to work too many hours”. Yeah right.

Alas, there’s one simple question that can actually help reveal what a candidate will be like as a colleague, employee or boss. Here goes:

”What would your former colleagues or employees say is your biggest weakness…that you would disagree with?”

That last half of the question is key! It forces the interviewee to reveal a weakness as observed by others and then defend why their former colleagues had it all wrong.

You’ll receive some very interesting – and exposing – responses. And the best part – whatever the candidate says is a misunderstood weakness is very likely an actual weakness of theirs.