A Leader’s Interview; The 7 Questions that Enhance Your Leadership & Excite Candidates!


Over the years, I’ve had the honor of hiring awesome people into my company, my dream, my baby! It was easy to be attracted to the “Inspired & Motivated”, wide-eyed, eager candidate that struggled to blink as you spoke; as you could see your words and mission enter their soul… I call that “Vacuum -Eyes”! We all want candidates this eager! As I’ve evolved… so have the questions I ask and encourage you to ask when interviewing to add great people to your organization or team. So, what are they?

Before the questions and conversation start, I must say, the power of making eye contact, smiling, and a positive attitude goes a long way! I’ve found many candidates are doing their best to manage the tornado of emotions swirling inside: anxiety to say the right answer, stress because they really want or really need the job, intimidation as they meet with a person in a position of leadership, or frustration; as this may be their tenth interview. Whatever their tornado, let’s kick off the experience with a warm greeting, eye contact, and a smile.

My favorite intro is… “Happy Monday (or whatever day it is)” and simply asking the candidate “How’s your day so far”. This is not one of the 7 Questions, but still monumentally important! Have you ever asked someone, “How’s your day” and they respond “living the dream” with a flat affect and dragging themselves around, “It’s too cold outside”, “Too hot”, or “Too whatever”? The candidate may have all of the skills, however, not the mindset you choose to build with and add to your organization, vision, and team. This question tends to be a great starting point… Be Mindful!

Question 1

How long have you been doing this?

Whether they stay forty days or forty years… It can give a quick gauge of experience level; no answer is wrong. Some employers prefer a higher level of time on a job and experience; however, the concern is the candidate may be set in their ways or struggle to learn new things. While other employers don’t mind minimal experience and are willing to make mistakes together to teach what needs to be known.

More and more companies are hiring based on the PERSON and have a Company University to Train their people with what they need the person to know. Lastly, this is a safe question to start with; as the answer is simple to give… and perfectly sets up Question 2!

Question 2

What do you like most about the job?

Before founding my own company and becoming a professional speaker, author, and leadership trainer; I was a Mental Health Therapist for 19 years. I enjoyed the job, but more importantly… I really enjoyed my clients. It was important for me to be aware that I may not have been my client’s first therapist. Therefore, I started every new session by introducing myself and asking “Have you done therapy before?”. Most of the time the answer was “Yes”. Then I got to ask, “What did you like about it; if anything?” and “What didn’t you like?”. Most clients are never asked this question; as it’s all about the therapist jumping in and sharing how they work. This question allows you to marry what they need with your style; creating an environment they look forward to coming to, evolving in, and paying for!

“What they like most about the job” also allows you (and the candidate) to hear what’s most important to them! It may be flexibility, helping a mission grow, meeting new people, finishing tasks, etc. Now you know… and so do they!

Question 3

What frustrates you the most about the job… Be honest!

The “Be honest” at the end is important as it implies you know it’s a sensitive question, you want “realness”, and are curious. Interestingly enough, the most common answer I’ve heard was “Not knowing the expectations of my boss or my role”.

This is a great time to discuss your view on leadership! I share my belief that leadership is a Two-Way Street… It’s my job to share the vision, expectations, and the few rules that propel us forward. It’s also important we have a safe environment for you to ask questions, challenge ideas, and accompany any problem you may have with a suggested solution. We only move forward as a team!

The other side of the street involves employees being willing to ask questions, assertively seek clarification, and professionally challenge ideas with intent to impact the vision and/or process of things. For example, “I’m having a hard time understanding __________, can you help me grasp ___________ so I can better explain it to my team to hit the goal?”. Or, “I have an idea I believe will help with ____________. I’d like to know what you like about it and if there’s anything you’d fine-tune?”. Perhaps, your candidate has a different answer to Question 3… whatever the answer, it’s true and powerful to them… be sure to listen and take it in!

Question 4

What’s your dream… If it’s this job, great! If it’s not, great! What’s your dream?

I love asking this question, as most people’s eyes widen when asked. Remember, the “What’s your dream question” is a question most people are only asked as children and while in school. Sadly, as people enter the workforce, life, and raise families… this question fades and tends to disappear. I love this question because you may be the first person in a very long time or EVER to ask it! Your candidate may say this is their dream job, or one day want to start their own business, or they’re in school to become a _________. Their answer will not only share more about them, but also shed light on ways you can possibly help.

A few years ago, I was presenting my Evolve & Lead Training Program for a company and all of their international leaders attended. The VP of the company introduced one of the leaders to me and said they were sad she would be leaving the company soon, but happy for her at the same time. The VP mentioned the woman would be leaving the company to open her own bakery and they’ve been helping to taste-testing her goodies for over a year!!!! Do you think either party will forget the other? The leader that left will always kick back great people to that organization; as well as speak highly of the company when out in the world!

I recently interviewed an Executive Assistant and her answer to this question was she has a side-business, enjoys flexibility of working from home, and has a desire to do both jobs. I was honored to mail her my book and offer her my 1-on-1 Growth Sessions to enhance her leadership and work/life harmony! The better she is as a leader, professionally and personally, the more she will do for and with my vision and forgive the mistakes I will inherently make from time to time!

Whether it’s related to your organization or beyond; how can you help your people with their dreams?

Question 5

How do you learn best?

I’ve shared this in my book, 7 Ways to Lead, and in my Trainings for organizations. To simplify it… I believe there are four ways people learn best: Verbal, Written, Visual, or Hands-On. I’m more Hands-on; especially when it’s a task I’m not going to do often. I need to do it, take notes, then be able to refer to my notes so I only have to ask questions one time. Lay these four options out for your candidates and see what they say. Their answer will tell you how to marry your teaching style with how they learn best. It can save you both mountains of frustration!

Question 6

What are your Top 2 Professional Languages?

I travel the most teaching and training my Leader’s 7; The 7 Languages your people need, want, and benefit most hearing from leadership. Everyone likes all 7, but each person have their top one or two. Be Mindful… when you decide to use this… ask it every year; as people’s Language can change as they evolve. For a deeper dive, feel free to read my 7 Ways to Lead. In the meantime, here are the 7 Languages that highly influence, impact, and motivate your people:

Goodie-Time – Food: Pizza, Hoagies, Lunches, or simply… chocolates in a bowl!

Quality Minutes – Brief conversation that’s not work-related with their boss!

Recognition & Affirmation – Being recognized for their great work!

Knowledge & Advancement – Wants to learn more and/or advance!

Incentives – Enjoys earning bonuses, trips, winning company competitions, etc.!

Flexibility – Work in a flexible manner or have ideas flexibly implemented!

Respect – Have the necessary tools to succeed, email etiquette, tone of voice, ask don’t tell.

Knowing our people’s Language will allow you to consistently lead with their motivation in casual times and in those tough conversations you must be willing to have as a leader.

Question 7

This is a Two-Way Street and you’re interviewing me as much I’m interviewing you. Do you have any questions for me and what do you want to get out of working with us?

Some candidates will have questions to get to know the company better, questions about their role, money, or hours. While others will have zero questions. Whether they have any or none; the important thing is… you asked! Lastly, knowing what they want to get out of working with and for you is a gift… allowing you to know where they want to go, what they want to know, and how you can be of impact in their professional journey! This is the opportunity to share what the job entails and what’s most important to you about their job… and can they do it!

I’m sure you have a few great questions of your own to ask or that you’ve been asked… feel free to marry them with these and enhance not only your Leadership & Work/Life Harmony but also that of those new to your organization and team. Enjoy the journey!


“Knowing what your candidates want to get out of working with and for you is a gift… allowing you to know where they want to go, what they want to know, and how you can be of impact in their professional journey!”    – Andre Young

Click www.youevolvingnow.com to find out more about Andre Young’s Leadership & Work/Life Harmony Trainings, Speaking Engagements, Books, and more; evolving your organization, your leaders, employees, and teams!

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