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My favorite artist at present, the one who provokes my thinking, creates ongoing intrigue, and
occasionally makes me laugh is…Banksy.

For those of you unfamiliar with Banksy, he is an anonymous British street artist known for his
provocative and politically charged graffiti artworks that often appear in public spaces around
the world. In 2018, at a London auction, one of Banksy’s iconic artworks, “Girl with Balloon,”
was sold for over £1 million. However, as soon as the hammer fell, the painting began to shred
itself, much to the shock of everyone in the room. This unexpected turn of events sparked
widespread speculation and interpretation about the meaning behind the shredding.

Why would Banksy do this? What was behind his thinking? Some speculated that Banksy was
making a statement about the fleeting nature of art or the commodification of creativity. Others
saw it as a commentary on the art market or the fragility of material possessions. The incident
became the subject of intense analysis and discussion, with people attributing various profound
meanings to the shredded artwork. While the world played checkers, Banksy was playing 3-D

Or was he? Banksy later revealed that he had installed a shredder into the frame years earlier
in case the artwork ever went up for auction. His intention was to create a playful prank, not to
convey a deep philosophical message. Art snobs were appalled, I laughed. In this case, I loved
learning what was really behind Banksy’s thinking.

Which brings us to recruiting and trying to get a handle on “what is behind” certain interviewer
questions. I believe that understanding the “question-behind-the-question” can unlock lots of
potential for sharing stories that directly address the interviewer’s concern.

Let’s take a simple example that I often use with senior level candidates – “what achievement
are you most proud of in your career?” It’s open-ended and seemingly straightforward. Many
will take the opportunity to talk about a recent promotion or their work on a critical business
problem. This question is not “can you take me on on tour of your trophy case.”

In this particular question, I am looking to learn and assess a few things. First, I want to see if
the individual has thought about the question. If the immediate reply is “that’s a great question”,
the person most likely is not prepared. The next thing I want to assess is if the individual can
describe their impact within the story. In other words, I want to hear context on the situation;
what problem were you solving, what was happening at the time, who was involved, what drama
existed that caused further issues for you and the team, etc.

The third thing I want to assess is if the person has structured the story. Does it have a
beginning, a middle, and an end, does it flow, has enough (or too much) information been
provided, and does the story support the prompt.

Lastly, I want to hear if or how it changed the person. Would the individual have conducted
things differently or was there a profound teaching moment through the experience?
In this example, “what achievement are you most proud of” is shorthand for a number of other
questions such as “where did you achieve success, what do you value, how do you prioritize,
how do you problem solve, how did you adapt, how do you frame the events leading up to the
achievement, etc.”

A good starting point is simply to google a list of standard interview questions and begin asking
yourself for each “what do I believe the interviewer will be looking to ascertain with the

Hire Thought-By thinking through the “question behind the question”, the candidate has the ability to be much more impactful with their responses. It may not always be clear why an interviewer poses a
certain question so the candidate should invest significant time beforehand working through
possible questions and those insights the interviewer is attempting to gain. Those who invest
the time will be prepared to address the specific question and what may be behind the question.
Those unprepared, should not be surprised to experience a shredder.

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