I have an idea that will require me to do more answering than questioning. That in itself is newsworthy.

Since talent is the lifeblood of our business, we spend a lot of time every year interviewing dozens candidates for all types of positions. We even have training for our key interviewers to ensure we all do a competent job, at minimum.

At its most basic, we review their resumes, decide what order they should meet us in and pre-plan a bunch of wonderful questions. Obviously, the goal of these questions is to uncover the essential truth about each candidate. Can they do the job? Will they be a good cultural fit? Will they make us better? Are they good value for the money they want? Do their career aspirations match what we have to offer? And so on.

If we do all of this very well, we each spend between 45 and 60 minutes interviewing these potential team members. And, at the end of these sessions, we never forget to ask “so, do you have any questions for us?” The feeling being, we got our money’s worth so we should give them a couple of minutes to ask us a few questions. OK, we are better than that, but it makes a bigger point more dramatically.

Maybe this is not the way it should go.

This approach obviously gives us most of what we need to ensure our brand will be both enhanced (or not) and protected (or not). If we love them, we feel good about what we learned. However, this approach does almost nothing to enhance and protect the candidate’s own brand.

For them to be successful with us, they should have dozens of real world questions to be answered beyond things like is there a commuter bus, where can they buy lunch, and are dogs allowed in the office.

I am thinking that shifting the emphasis of the meeting to a 50/50 split of questioning would probably be a great idea. We still definitely get what we want. But, in return, they have more than enough time to determine if we will truly be a good match for them. Is the job being offered really what they need it to be? Is this a group of people that they will feel at home with and who will embrace their idiosyncrasies? Can they grow in this organization? Will they like their boss? Do the creative people want to hear their ideas? How is the business performing currently? Are the clients the type of people they want to work with? And so on.

This idea didn’t pop into my head because it was seemingly a nice idea. To me, this approach may actually work wonders with retention and motivation. We spend a lot of time having parties, celebrating anniversaries, talking about our wins and work, and all of these things are really important. I just have to wonder, would we do even better if the whole relationship started on a more even footing. The 50/50 interview!!

I bet my Director of Talent would say “YES”. She did. And she was also smart enough to point out how much more we would learn about our candidates from all the questions they asked us.