This is one of those fun tough interview questions. I’m going to read the whole question because it gives even more texture to how stupid it is when you hear the whole thing.
Our company is looking for wolves, not sheep. We need leaders, not managers. One telltale sign of a leader is having a headstrong type A personality. But on the personality test, I noticed you are really more of a type B.”
Some people in firms actually do believe in this. The traditional answer . . . this question is asked in a variety of different ways . . . Normally, they are not going to do the wolf versus sheep part of the question. It comes out of “301 Answers to Tough Interview Questions.” A lot of what’s there is very good. Their suggested answers here really aren’t. I’m going to offer them to you here so that you can get a perspective on the difference.
One answer is to tell them that what makes leadership is the ability to motivate all different kinds of people, whether that’s Type A’s or Type B’s, managers, visionaries, what have you. Your job is to deal with the lazy employees and give them the kick in the pants that they need and raining in Type A’s when that’s appropriate. Your role is to demonstrate emotional intelligence. That’s the flavor to one of the answers.
In the second one, don’t go through what seems like someone protesting too much. “In the past, I have led a team of 40 people and frankly, there were all different types of people. I had the grace under pressure to motivate cajole, encourage, and inspire any kind of employee in your organization. Here is what is missing to these.
What you are doing is accepting the assumption of the question. Instead, I would start by saying, “that’s interesting. What makes you think that? Because there are all sorts of great leaders who are not Type A personalities.” Then, you give an example of great Type A’s– Steve Jobs certainly appears have been a type A. Is Bill Gates a Type A? I don’t think so. Is Mark Zuckerberg? I don’t presume to know him so well but he surrounded himself with Type B’s. I’ll just say that there are great Type B personalities leading teams, leading groups, leading organizations because they can inspire, not motivate.
“Motivation is forcing people to do things that they otherwise would not want to do. Inspiring is reaching into their hearts and souls and drawing that part of their personality out so they want to do it voluntarily. Motivation is the admission of a bad hire because you have to make them do something for some reason whatsoever . . . And that isn’t ideal.
“Eventually, motivation dissipates and in the studies of the impact of spot bonuses where, initially, there’s a certain amount of energy that is created but, once the bonus has been issued, it all goes away! What was accomplished except the quick flurry? If That’s what you look for, that’s okay.”
So I go back to my version of the answer that says, “What makes you think that because great Type B personalities are leading very significant organizations just like there are Type A’s.
“You may think this would be need Type A but how has that been working for you up until this point? Why isn’t my predecessor for this job in that role anymore? They left or they got fired or they didn’t work out for some reason whatsoever.”
“The assumption that you want a Type A is flawed and I just invite you . . . Let me go to further in the process. Let’s all get acquainted with me and let’s see if this makes sense for both of us. Let’s see what you really need. Let’s see if this makes sense for both of us.
You have to confront the assumption. You can’t just simply respond by going, “I will do a great job! I have done it in the past.”
No. You will never get through that way. What it’s about breaking down the assumption in the question.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1800 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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