The Most Powerful Question You Could Ask a New Employee


You are across the desk from what you hope is your future rainmaker. So what is the one question you should ask that has the power to predict rain?

The Right Question Reveals a True RainMaker

On their first day, or final interview, ask your new hire, or promising prospect, to describe the last day the two of you work together. That’s right, start talking about the end of your working relationship from day one. Whether you are the one that is leaving or if it is the employee moving on is irrelevant. Find out what they would like that last day together to look like. What had they accomplished by that day? The position they hold, what they achieved by then, the new skills they developed along the way, the money they are making, and even what their office looks like at the time.

When I am hiring a new employee, I have found this to be one of the most powerful questions I ask. At a particularly comfortable moment in the interview, or first meeting, I would switch gears and tell them “I want to discuss that inevitable day in our future when we stop working together”…their last day working with me. This question, delivered properly, can be disarming to say the least but very revealing.

People who answer this question with certainty are giving you a powerful insight into their “focus preference” and “belief system”….and they trust you!  Unfortunately, not everyone will have a lucid response to this question.

Does Your Candidate Visualize A Compelling Future?

One reason some people have difficultly handling this simple question is they are not comfortable with you and they do not trust you enough to share their dreams and aspirations, if they have any at all.  The other reason is, they do not have an answer at all.  They do not sort their world in future terms, but rather in the present or past tense. Either reason suggests you may be staring at a first classic under-performer who interviewed well enough to get to this point.

So why is this “future focus” so telling? Because people who naturally sort the worlds sensory inputs “for the future first” tend to better adapt to new challenges and opportunities than those who drive their careers by looking through their rear view mirror. The fact that they have a clear, crisp, three-dimensional color picture of their future state gives their subconscious mind a bright shiny target to hit.  In short, they have firm goals that drive them to successful activity much better than any contest, threat, or pep talk a boss can possibly throw at them. Their road map to success is embedded in them at the DNA level. This person has stayed up late many nights painting that bright mental picture. Their “future state” is fused to their identity and they must realize that vision at all cost. To them it is not an option.

On the other hand, you may be across the desk from Mr. or Ms. Yesterday and peering into the future for them

Asking Them To Detail Their Future Should Never Draw A Blank Stare

is a vague morass of wishful ideas. In some cases, you may only find a blank stare.   Either answer requires the same response.NO WAY. Alarm bells should be going off at this point because you are about to make a classic hiring mistake. It would be fine if the potential employee, who is hard-wired to focusing on the present or the past, is interviewing for an accounting position and not a rain-making job. Great sellers easily see things that do not exist yet…great accountants see things they should not.

So be easy on yourself, ask the “last day” question. Your future depends on it.


                                 IF YOU LIKED  MUST#1 YOU WILL LOVE MUST #3…COMING UP NEXT ! 


5 Comments on “The Most Powerful Question You Could Ask a New Employee

  1. I remember you once came to my programming class and spoke to us, and I told you how I wanted to move into a producer position on the Morning Show at WZZN (you were the president at that time). You game me three words that I use everyday in my life:

    Ascend through assimilation.

    Just wanted to take a chance to thank you. Hope you are well,

  2. Zemira,

    A very insightful and thought-provoking exercise

    Thank you for a whole new perspective/outlook


  3. Zemira,

    My company is attempting to move from an installation/solution thinking company to a sales tihinking company that sells installations and solutions. Because installations and solutions is my comfort zone I am paying more attention to tips about sales and marketing attributes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject.


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