A former Goldman Sachs employee who went on to launch a startup shares her favourite interview question

Becca BrownCourtesy of Becca BrownBecca Brown, cofounder of Solemates.

You may think being in the hot seat, where you typically have to answer dozens of questions about yourself, is tough — but things aren’t necessarily much easier for the hiring manager on the other side of the desk.

As an interviewer, coming up with the right questions can be tricky. You want to ask candidates things that will get them to reveal who they are, what they value, and whether they’d be a good fit.

That’s why when a CEO, founder, or hiring manager finds one that does just that, they often make it their go-to, must-ask question.

Becca Brown, cofounder of Solemates, a brand of women’s shoe care, found hers shortly after launching her business in 2009.

Brown — who has a bachelor’s from Harvard University and an MBA from Columbia — says she has a lot of experience interview job candidates. Prior to founding Solemates, Brown worked with cofounder Monica Ferguson at Goldman Sachs, where she was part of the Harvard recruiting team.

But it wasn’t until Brown and Ferguson started interviewing candidates for Solemates that she “found” her must-ask question.

Becca and MonicaCourtesy of Becca BrownBrown and Solemates cofounder Monica Ferguson.

Brown estimates she’s conducted nearly 60 job interviews over the past six year, and in almost every one she’s asked: “What’s your favourite part of your current job?” (If the candidate is not currently employed, she’ll tweak the question and instead ask about the best part of a previous job.)

“I want to know what a candidate enjoys doing because not only does it give me insight into who the person is and their personality, but it shows me where I think they can thrive,” Brown tells Business Insider. “In general, we all excel when we enjoy what we’re doing. If we can harness what a candidate genuinely enjoys doing in their job, it becomes a win-win situation.”

What Brown looks for in a candidate’s answer is honesty.

“I have heard a variety of answers to this question over the years, some very politically correct and polished, others very direct and blunt,” she says. “Ultimately, I want to hear the candidate’s honest answer and that’s usually the first thing that pops into their head. There is no wrong answer to this question. If a candidate is thinking too much about it, I’ll usually ask them to share with me the first thing that came to mind.”

Currently, Solemates has five full-time employees and the team works with five additional contracted workers.

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