A Manager's Secret Weapon


As a manager in the business world, becoming an excellent interviewer could easily become your secret weapon.

Consider your role—as you move from an individual contributor to a manager, your success starts to hinge almost entirely on the collective output of the people on your team. Mastering the art of interviewing—eliciting and interpreting data—allows you to assemble a team of exceptional performers.

Are there other aspects of management that are important? Obviously. Goal-setting, alignment, coaching, feedback, etc., all matter. But all of these are significantly easier when working with high performers who are a strong fit for the role. If you’ve ever wasted 6-12 months of your life trying to rescue an underperformer only to have to let them go anyhow, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Mastering the art of interviewing—specifically the ability to accurately assess talent—is the ultimate high-leverage skill to add to your management arsenal. You successfully shift your identity from being a sole contributor to becoming an architect of a high-performing team.

The irony is that while there is generally low awareness of the importance of interviewing, almost everyone agrees that your success as a manager will be a function of the quality of your team. (It’s self-evidently true.) How can that be?

It’s a combination of: not realizing there is a better way to interview, and being continually optimistic about your ability to “change” people.

I’m not saying it’s impossible—some people and some traits really can be shaped. But why would you put yourself at a disadvantage when you could start with an exceptional team of high performers? You then have the wind at your back.

Beyond this, I suspect there are two further reasons managers under-invest in quality interviewing:

  1. The first is time. You urgently need someone for a key role right now. And you feel that you can’t be picky, or devote the time to getting better at interviewing.
  2. The second is agency. You may feel that you’re not in a position to change any of the ways that your company is currently interviewing.

Here are my two responses:

  1. The single most time-wasting thing you can do is hire 50% mediocre performers and then spend 80% of your time trying to coach/manage/feedback them for the next 6-12 months.
  2. Most CEOs and leaders would be thrilled to hear that you’ve proactively sought interview training and have a proposal to spread that methodology throughout the organization.

And if you’re considering starting your own company some day, the importance of talent scouting increases even further. For you as a founder, building a team is not just one of many tasks—it is the fundamental priority. The quality of the people you recruit will be of make-or-break importance for your company.

In summary, the skill of expert interviewing is essential. It provides a means for you to proactively shape your professional destiny, offering a pathway to elevate not only your personal success but also the success of your entire team.

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