The job of a leader isn’t to know all the answers, but to create conditions by which an entire team gets to learn and innovate. To achieve this, leaders need to understand how to hire people for co-creative problem-solving.

Leaders need to build teams that can both define the right questions and then discover new answers. Here's how to ask the right question to find capable candidates:

1:) Questions that uncover capabilities, not experience. Instead of asking, “Have you done x or y or z?” you want to ask, “How would you approach doing x or y or z?”. This shift lets you learn more about someone’s capacity to think with you.

2:) Questions that assess whether they can co-create on a team. Ask, “How would you handle a situation where it’s become clear that there is a gap on your team?”. You want to find people who can figure out things together, filling in the gaps between predefined roles to get the work done.

3:) Questions that uncover the kinds of things they love to work on. If you’re hiring for innovation, figuring out what people genuinely care about lets you put people together who don’t have the same approaches but who want to reach the same goal.

Unfortunately, an estimated 60% of the jobs in the U.S. require little to no creativity, decision-making, or independent judgment. But if you are working on innovation, you need someone who can think with you. And by focusing on capability over experience, you increase your chances of finding that person.


Inspired by: Harvard Business Review - Stop Eliminating Perfectly Good Candidates by Asking Them the Wrong Questions, by Nilofer Merchant