Any guesses? If you were trying to get to know somebody whether it was on a date, during a job interview or anywhere else really but you only had one question you could ask, what would it be? For me, this question is simple. It’s the same question I was asked for a third grade writing prompt, during my promotion board in the military and that I’ve asked during every interview I’ve been a part of in the civilian world. It’s gives you a valuable insight into whether or not someone is genuine just by how they respond. Check out this article to find out what question I would ask and why…
So what’s the question I would ask?
If you could have one super power what would it be?
Not what superhero would you be but what superpower would you pick?
There have been two times in my life that I have been asked this question that I will truly never forget:
- This was the topic of the first paper I remember writing in school in probably the third grade…
- It was the last question that my Command Sergeant Major asked me during my promotion board for Sergeant (SGT) in the United States Army…..
Needless to say, there were significantly different intentions between when my third grade teacher gave me this question as a writing prompt and when I was asked this question to make or break my advancement through the ranks of the United States Army but the value of this question holds true…
When I was a kid, I wanted to fly or I wanted super stretchy arms so I could reach the T.V. remote without leaving the couch. But when I was asked this question during my promotion board, it required a deeper sense of thinking.
I wasn’t asked this question as a “freebee”. In fact, I quickly learned that I was asked this question by my leadership team with a precise result in mind.
For months after my promotion board I tried valiantly to understand why this question was so valuable to them. I wanted to know how this question, out of any other question in the world, could have provided my leadership team the information they wanted to know to decide my fate and here is what I came up with:
- Most adults who are asked this question wouldn’t take it seriously which may mean they lack creativity and the ability to think outside of the box.
- This question is strange and likely often catches people off guard which quickly shows how capable someone is of thinking on their feet.
- For those who do take this question seriously and answer it honestly, it will provide you with insight into how they think. Are their answers self-centered for their own benefit or focused on the greater good and oriented towards working well with others.
- And most importantly, this question gives you substantial insight into how genuine someone may be. This answer provides incredible insight into if someone is inclined to try to lie to you or provide you with the answer they think you want to hear instead of their own genuine response.
My leadership wanted to know the type of soldier I was and if I would make a great leader or not.
The wording in this question is very important though because I wasn’t asked which superhero I would be because that would be to easy (superman, obviously). Superhero’s have multiple powers. The question I was asked was, which superpower I would pick, only permitting one response which must be carefully considered.
But during my promotion board, they didn’t give me time to think before I answered so I spit out the words that came from a special place in my heart. At first, I responded by stumbling over my words but he was relentless and demanded a clear response and I told him I didn’t have an answer for him but that I would bring him one.
A week later, I went to his office with my answer. I wanted to be invincible so I could lead forever. If I was invincible that meant I could take on the burden of those who relied on me without fatigue or failure. It meant even if I failed, I could keep trying until I got it right. I wanted to be able to withstand the most wicked of storms so those whom I led would be fearless in their decision to follow me. And for my own selfish reasons, being invincible would guarantee that no matter where the Army sent me, I wouldn’t have the worry of whether or not I would make it home to my family.
Who knows if that was the answer they were looking for but it was true and remains my answer to this very day. I would be invincible so I could put the world on my shoulders. Not for fame or recognition but because it would allow me to show everyone watching me that I would never give up and it would align perfectly with my life’s mission of changing the world.
I truly believe this question should be asked in every job interview, on every first date, or in any setting where you want to truly understand how someone thinks. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!
By: SGT Timothy A. Natale
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