Simon Sinek Interview Tips

Simon Sinek, the inspiring, life-changing, bestselling author of “Leaders Eat Last” and “Together Is Better” recently launched a live book club Q&A to discuss his first bestseller, “Starts with Why.”


Here’s a little backstory if you’re not familiar with Sinek’s work: 


In 2009 Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work and, in turn, inspire their colleagues and customers. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, including more than 40 million who’ve watched his TED Talk based on “Start with Why” – the third most popular TED video of all time.


During Start With Why: Part 2 Book Club with Simon, Sinek offered some valuable interview tips to help determine a good culture fit, how well a candidate or company knows their why, and how you can help to uncover yours.   


During an interview, Sinek says he always asks the interviewer these questions:


What’s the company’s cause? 

What do you stand for? 

Do you love your job? 

What are you hoping to build that’s bigger than the money you make?

What’s the vision of the company? 


If you ask multiple people within the same company these questions, do you get the same answer? If not, Sinek says the “why” of that organization may not be clearly defined or practiced. 


If you’re the interviewer, Sinek says the same rules apply. “Tell me what you stand for. Tell me what you hope to advance in your life more significant than the money you make.” And see if people can articulate that. Their answers are a key indicator of a potential good culture fit.


Sinek’s favorite interview question is less about tangible results and more about showcasing your passion, “Tell me a story of something you did in your career that you absolutely loved being a part of whether it was commercially successful or not.” Sinek says the story that somebody proceeds to tell is going to be something that is emotional and uses the word love and is based on their why, and you’re going to find out a lot about them from that response about who they are not just what they can do.


It’s also essential to keep in mind when you interview that you’re not working for a company you are working for people. And it’s more important to work for a great leader than it is to work for a great company.


“I’ve worked for some okay companies, but I had some fantastic leaders early in my career. I remember when I was junior in my career and some HR person interviewing me would ask, ‘What are you looking for?’ I would say, ‘What I’m looking for is a lot like looking for love, but I’m looking for a mentor.’ I kept looking for a boss that I believed in and who got a kick out of me and wanted to help foster my career,” Sinek said.


And in case you were wondering Sinek, says you can’t have two whys, one for your professional life and one for your personal life. You are who you are. “The reason your friends love you is the same reason your colleagues, your clients, and your customers love you. If you are acting differently in one of those two places, then on one of those two places, you’re lying.” The opportunity is bringing your why to life personally and professionally while keeping in mind it’s not about what you do, it’s why you do it.  


You only have one why, and it never changes your whole life regardless of the role you play. The opportunity your life affords you is all the choices you make to bring your why to life. So the question is, is what you’re doing and why you’re doing it consistently. Because only when why, how, and what are in perfect balance do we “know who we are.”


Just like a company, our why is our origin story. It’s where we come from; it’s who we are; it’s how we were raised, and the rest of our lives are an opportunity to live our lives in balance or not. 


Photo Credit: Simon Sinek.com