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One of the Most Important Questions to Ask Yourself When Interviewing Someone

by | Hiring, Insights, Management

There’s something that a portfolio company of ours, The Pro’s Closet, does that has created a very unique culture. 

To start, every new employee is required to read the book 2 Second Lean. The premise of the book is that you can make an improvement in your life or job by making simple improvements that save you 2 seconds of time/effort. Every morning at The Pro’s Closet at their company-wide, stand-up, 10-minute meeting, there is a rotating person who talks about an improvement he/she has made in his/her job or workflow to reduce the time it takes to do some aspect of the job.

The origination of this stems from the CEO of the company, Nick Martin, whom I’ve developed a tremendous amount of respect for. The concept is supported by all of the managers and it’s completely engrained into the culture of the company in literally everything they do. It’s hard to have a meeting with people there and not hear someone say something about “leaning” a process or making an improvement. It’s truly remarkable… and magical.

It had me thinking about this concept in the context of a very important attribute to look for when hiring. The attribute I’m referring to is ‘raising the bar of the team around him/her.’ If you’re a hiring manager, think of this as a form of continual process improvement whereas the “process” is the team – i.e. ‘continual team improvement.’

It sounds simple, but making big leaps forward by a company requires building a team and a culture that is always raising the bar internally. They are always making continuous process improvements. They spend time talking about how they can improve things, not just focusing on completing the task at hand.

And in order to do that, it requires building a culture around that concept and it also requires hiring people who will elevate the game of everyone on the team. 

Think about the Chicago Bulls during their heyday. Michael Jordan made everyone better on the team just like BJ Armstrong, Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant made Michael Jordan better. They all elevated each other’s game. 

So when you’re in hiring mode, ask yourself one very important question about each candidate:

Will this person raise the bar of the team in which he/she is joining?

If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure,” don’t hire that person. If the answer is a resounding yes, set that person free and watch the entire team become more effective.

Sounds simple, but it’s so often overlooked and people are hired for various other reasons. I’ve neglected to ask myself that question during hiring processes and I’ve made bad decisions. But if you don’t find people who will continually raise the bar for everyone around them, the company will only be tread water.

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