I was talking with Chip House (Linkedin | Twitter) about a variety of topics, including interviewing and building a great team around yourself. When I asked him how he spotted leadership potential he said he tried to ask questions that indicated how well the candidate knew themselves. What a wonderful insight! I wish I would have had that heuristic years ago.
I’ve done a lot of interviews in my life but I never thought of using that screen: “How well do you know yourself?” And, the implied corollary, “How are you using that knowledge to better yourself and, ultimately, be a better leader? “
I’ve always asked questions that get at related topics:
• What have you taught yourself lately (to see if they’re able to turn curiosity into knowledge)
• What’s a hard problem you’ve solved lately (to see if they can drive to solution)
• What’s the next leadership skill you want to add to your toolbox? (To see if they’ve actually got a development plan for themselves)
Those questions have been really useful, but I’ve never gone at interviews to understand the essential thing: Does this person have a good enough sense of themselves – their skills, their gaps, their blindspots – to be a good leader of people?
Obviously, you can’t really know if people truly have good self awareness or not in a 45-60 minute interview, but if you go into the discussion trying to discern whether your interview participants understand themselves – a little bit, a lot, at all – it will only help you to make decisions on who could be a good leader for your team.