by Meridith Levinson

6 Job Interview Questions to Identify Change Agents and Innovators

Jul 15, 20093 mins

Companies today need people who can lead in the face of change and uncertainty.

When I reported my story on job interview questions (IT Job Seekers: Can You Answer an Interviewer’s 12 Gotcha Questions?), I spoke with Amanda Hite, founder and president of recruiting and HR consulting firm Talent Revolution. A woman who goes by “Sexy Thinker” on Twitter has to have some unusual job interview questions up her sleeve, and Hite didn’t disappoint me.

However, I didn’t include her questions in the story simply because I decided to source the story exclusively with IT professionals, and Hite was my only source who wasn’t in IT. (Her firm works primarily with companies in the hospitality industry.)

Excluding Hite from the story may have been a mistake in retrospect. Her questions could easily work for an IT job interview because they’re designed to help identify whether a candidate is a change agent and innovator. What CEO doesn’t want those qualities in a CIO? And likewise, what CIO doesn’t want those qualities in her IT staff?

“Companies today need people who can lead through change, who can come up with new ideas and new solutions because we have new problems we’re dealing with,” says Hite. “If you’re looking for innovators, game changers and change agents—and right now, I think everyone is looking for that—these are great questions to ask.”

[For more interview questions, see my blog entry on unconventional job interview questions. ]

What do you do to build, manage and maintain your network?

I can see this question being relevant for IT executives. Companies recruiting executives—whether to lead the sales organization or the IT department—want to hire well-connected leaders who are highly regarded among their peers in their industry. (See How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People.)  

2. If I Google you, what will I find?

Related to being well-connected, companies want to know that all prospective employees have a good online reputation. A job seeker’s answer to this question will demonstrate their awareness of their online reputation and will help them articulate their personal brand. Chances are good that the person in charge of hiring you has already entered your name in a search engine.

3. What do you do to stay focused?

The ability to focus is a critical skill for IT professionals of all stripes, especially when everyone is inundated with work, distractions abound, and social media technologies compete for our attention.   

4. What do you do to stay relevant?

An obvious question for IT professionals. Brian Nettles, the director of enterprise systems at CB Richard Ellis, asks a similar question to get at the same point: What books have you read lately?

5. What innovative solutions have you created?

Another question that could be posed to any IT professional. Whether you’re a project manager, help desk manager, software developer, enterprise architect or CIO, your job is arguably to come up with innovative solutions to business problems. For that reason, this question should be a breeze for IT professionals.

6. Walk me through a time when you administered change.

An appropriate question for IT managers and executives. All IT initiatives involve varying degrees of change management. Success in IT hinges largely on IT managers’ ability to administer change across their