The Questions Are the Answer

After interviewing hundreds of candidates in my career and reading multiple books on this topic, I’m convinced that this is one of the best ways to determine if a candidate will be a good hire or would be a bad hire.

Let me take you back in time for illustration.

You and I travel to Starbucks and sit across the table from Jeremiah. We’ve had a phone conversation, but this is the first time we are meeting him face-to-face. He’s smiling. He’s excited. He wants to become an agent with us.

We make small talk and then begin asking him standard interview questions: Why him? Why now? Why us? What are your results? Experience? Strengths? Areas of development? Etc.

An hour passes and it’s about the time when most interviews would end. However, this interview is different.

I ask, “Jeremiah, do you have any questions for me?” Whoa, does he ever.

The flood gates open and his questions come rushing out: “What are you looking for? What attributes make a great agent with your company? What’s the size of the market? How much market share do you have? How fast will I be able to grow my agency?” Etc.

He is asking us so many great and growth-minded questions. Our conversation goes on for so long that a Starbucks employee comes over and politely asks us to leave. “We are closing. You’re welcome to sit outside on our patio”, they tell us.

We do just that. We’re now outside. It’s a beautiful spring day. The sun is starting to set but his questions are not. He wants to learn it all and he wants to learn it now.

A mother and her toddler son walk up to us. She asks if Starbucks is closed and gets upset when we tell her that they are. Frustrated, she tells us that she had promised her young son a Unicorn Frappuccino in exchange for cleaning his room and is wondering how she’ll be able to keep her promise to him. (This actually happened 😂)

This moment breaks Jeremiah’s rapid line of questions, but only for seconds. He continues back on his mission to learn it all. “What are the best practices for lead generation? What marketing assistance does your company offer? How will our relationship work? How many employees would you recommend I hire from the start?” Etc.

Hours pass. We know our families will soon start to wonder where we are at and what’s taking us so long.

After discussing next steps, we thank Jeremiah for his time and desire to join our team. You and I hop into my car and begin the 90 minute drive back home; plenty of time to dissect the interview.

What stood out? Lots of things: his friendly personality, his prior experience, his goals and especially his questions.

He had so many questions. His desire for knowledge show us that he’s already mentally placed himself in the role. He’s envisioning the position and has started his career without having received a job offer…yet.

Not too long after this, after several more interviews, we offer Jeremiah the position. One year later, he’s recognized with the Rookie of the Year award for the state of Washington. Three years later, he’s one of the top agents on our team and continues to lead and grow in ways that few do.

Jeremiah after being awarded with the Rookie of the Year trophy.

I’ve had the privilege to hire many great people. As I reflect back on those interviews, I’m convinced that the candidates’ questions are the answer.

Do they have questions? Are they good questions? Trust me, despite what your middle-school teacher told you, not all questions are good ones.

Pay close attention to what they are telling you by what they are asking you. Does this person have the desire to make the relationship a win for everyone or just for them? Do they have the drive to be successful? Is this truly their passion?

In my humble opinion, the questions they ask are your greatest indicator of their potential success.

What do you think? I want to know.

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