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Former Google career coach: 5 great interview questions to ask job candidates

Former Google career coach Jenny Blake shares her best advice in "Pivot."
Source: Mark Hanauer
Former Google career coach Jenny Blake shares her best advice in "Pivot."

Jenny Blake, co-founder of Google's career development and mentorship program, knows a thing or two about what makes an outstanding employee.

Before starting her own coaching firm, Blake helped over 1,000 people improve their careers, all while learning what traits set people up for success.

In her new book "Pivot," Blake shares some of her best advice.

We asked Blake which interview questions employers should ask to attract highly motivated people. Here's what she said:

1. Tell me about a time where you solved a particularly interesting problem.

This question gets at problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, Blake said, which are increasingly important in today's business world.

2. What are you most excited about learning?

Blake said this is a good alternative to the popular five-year question.

"I don't like the question, 'Where do you see yourself in five years?'" she said. "Because things are changing too quickly, it is totally irrelevant." Instead, she recommends that employers get a sense of what a person is eager to work on and which skills they want to develop.

3. What skills or talents seem totally unrelated to your career but that you enjoy pursuing on the side?

This question is another good way to figure out what people are truly passionate about. "I think this one is really interesting," she said. "I've talked with people at Google who raised chickens on the side."

4. What kind of impact are you most excited to make?

People want to feel that their work is making an impact, according to Blake.

"High net growth individuals want to feel challenged, collaborative and like they are able to make a positive impact within their organizations and outside of them," she writes in "Pivot."

5. When was a time things didn't go as planned, and how did you handle it?

"I do think it's good to try to frame something up around how someone handles uncertainty or even mistakes," Blake said. Missteps are inevitable, so hiring people who bounce back is critical.