What Are You Asking Them?


I often joke with job hunters about how companies interview.

I will tell them about how firms look for people who demonstrate qualities of personal leadership and that a company isn’t going to ask them, “So (with serious expression on face), are you a leader?”

“Yes, I’m a leader.”

“Good, that’s the answer we were looking for.”

But the questioning to assess leadership style often isn’t much different and can open a firm to bias charges through the use of subjective criteria in assessment.

For example, asking people about their leadership style or greatest management challenge will really tell you nothing about a person and their capabilities, let alone how they think. References are often pointless because they have been cherry picked by the candidate.

Often missing in the assessment process is the search for honesty, self-reflection, vision and candor.

So what can you do?

Well, depending upon the role, Jack and Suzy Welsh ask a question like:

“What’s the best example of you anticipating a market change that others did not see?”


“When did your curiosity lead you to probe deeply and uncover a competitive trend or marketplace dynamic that others didn’t see (or didn’t want to see)?

On leadership, you can ask them about hiring successes and failures they’ve had . . .what they got right and what they missed (a test of honesty).

You can ask them about the hires who achieved great things under their leadership and have gone on to triumph.

For certain roles, you can ask about the greatest violation of integrity they have found and how they handled it. What did you do when you found yourself in the midst of a firestorm or criticism.

When exploring their capacity for growth, consider asking them about whether they have willingly ever gone through a personal or professional transformation.

As for honesty, a fun area to explore is whether they have ever been blindsided in life. What happened and why did it happen?

The Welsh’s offer a series of important suggestion–Listen carefully to the answers. Listen to what is said and not said and to the silences and pauses. Doing this essential because interview veterans will reveal what you need after you ask questions like this if you listen to their answers carefully.



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Do you really think employers are trying to help you? You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years.

JobSearchCoachingHQ.com is there to change that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

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