When you’re interviewing for a position, it’s important to remember that you are learning about the company just as much as the company is learning about you. You can always come armed with some questions to learn about the organization and the role you’re interviewing for, but here are three questions you can ask to learn about your interviewer’s leadership skills.
Question 1: “Can you tell me what you love about leading?”
You’ll be able to learn a lot from this question, but there is one thing in particular that you should listen for: at some point, unprompted, you’ll want your interviewer to say that he or she loves developing people. In my research it’s clear that the best team leaders all list that one item when talking about what they love about leading.
Question 2: “When you’re considering what decision to make, what goes through your mind?”
Your interviewer will probably say all manner of things in response to this question, but once again there is something specific that you should be listening for: scenario planning and what-if thinking. The best leaders are constantly planning for the future, projecting themselves around the corner and looking for dragons (or their field’s dragon-equivalent). You want a leader who naturally engages in what-if thinking, because that’s a leader who has prepared him or herself for any obstacles up ahead.
Question 3: “Would you say that you’re a natural optimist?”
This might seem like it’s too simple, but that’s exactly why it’s on this list. The best leaders are optimists. They just are. They look at the world and they think, “I can make this better” – and that’s the kind of person you want to work for. Not a naïve idealist – because that’s different from optimism – but someone who naturally, instinctively believes in every fiber of their being that the world could be a better place.