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The One Question You Should Ask in Every Interview

One of the ideas I often like to use in my consulting practice is the principle of “Start with Why,” discussed by leadership expert Simon Sinek. Before you think about the product you are going to offer or how you are going to go about bringing it to market, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re producing it in the first place. Why are you in the business you are in? What drives you? What is your purpose? If you don’t ask this question, your work will end up mediocre at best, and catastrophic at worst.

This idea, however, extends beyond how we serve our customers. As important as it is for you to ask yourself why you do what you do, it’s also important as a leader for you to ask the same thing of your team. Why do your people do what they do? What drives them? What is their purpose? Have you even asked them? Think back to your last interview. What kinds of questions did you ask the person hired? Maybe you asked them about their experience. Maybe you asked them about their education. Maybe you asked them about skills specific to the position for which they were applying. These are all important questions, but did you remember to ask them, “Why?”

Perhaps the most important question you will ever ask a candidate in an interview is, “Why do you want to work for us?” The point is to get at the heart of what drives the job candidate. Is that person just looking for a job, or are they driven by a core set of values that they see mirrored in your company? Take a look at your team. Who is working for you just to have a job, and who is working for you because their “why” compels them to? Build a team dedicated to purpose, and you’ll have a company committed to success.