What the CEO of This Hugely Successful Company Asks Every Job Candidate

by Dana Covit

When it comes to landing your dream job, it's always good to be over-prepared. Even better? Knowing the go-to tactics of those in charge. In a conversation with The New York Times, Melanie Whelan, the CEO of SoulCycle, revealed her own approach to finding the right people for the job. Business Insider outlines the questions and topics Whelan revisits each time she considers a job candidate. Read on.

"Tell me about your background."

According to the Times, the first thing Whelan says is “Tell me about your background.” According to Whelan, this open-ended invitation is "a great way to warm up any conversation, and it really helps me understand how you communicate. Are you linear, concise, and direct? Or are you a storyteller? Are you entertaining? Do you go off on tangents?" Each of these different possibilities may point toward being right, or wrong, for a particular role.

Are you running from, or toward something?

Talk of transitions is crucial, according to Whelan. The way we describe past jobs and our reasons for leaving is what is almost more important than those past jobs and reasons for leaving themselves. "Were you running away from something or toward something, and how do you frame that?" There's no question that career moves are inevitable, and that running toward something with enthusiasm is always a more productive way to articulate and understand these moves.

What was a project you were involved in?

When answering this question, Whelan listens for pronouns: "I then ask people to pick some project from their story and go deeper. I listen for 'we' versus 'I,' and I want to know what you specifically did to impact the outcome." She continues: "We’re a very hands-on culture. One of our core values is "We get dirty." Everyone gets into the business."

Do you have any questions?

"The last thing I do is ask what questions they have for me," reveals Whelan. "That shows me how well you’ve done your research on our mission, and how intellectually curious you are."

As for being a good listener, Whelan also notes that, "You have to ask a lot of questions and you have to really listen to the answers. Don’t be thinking about the next question, and don’t be thinking about what you’re having for lunch. Really listen, because in every answer there are at least three more questions you want to be asking."

Read more of Melanie Whelan's interview with The New York Times.

What tough questions have you encountered while interviewing? Tell us below.

Explore: SoulCycle

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