What to say when a job interviewer asks, ‘Who’s your role model?’

What to say when a job interviewer asks, ‘Who’s your role model?’

Source: This article was originally published on CNBC.
Written by: Courtney Connley, CNBC Make It

Job-seekers may think that reviewing their own resume and career highlights is sufficient preparation for an interview, but there’s actually someone else whose achievements you need to consider as well.

There’s one question that interview candidates almost always get wrong. “Who’s your role model?”

The question is a gift from the career gods, it’s the hiring manager giving you a chance to prove how well you know—and how much you love—the kind of work you hope to be doing.


Too many job-seekers answer this question with the best of intentions but no strategy, responding with something generic like “my mom” or “my dad.”

That answer is endearing, and I get it. Parents make enormous sacrifices for us and often are our best teachers in life. But as an interviewer, I want to hear about your career values and aspirations. I want to hear about your professional heroes.

In the early days of my journalism career, I would always ace this question by talking about Edna Buchanan, a Miami-Herald crime reporter. Everyone in the business knew of Edna and her decades of investigative brilliance. She was fierce, relentless and respected—she was everything I hoped to be.

Find your Edna Buchanan. Choose someone whose reputation will indicate that you’re serious about becoming one of your industry’s high achievers as well.

Talk about a visionary in your field, or a former boss who taught you how to build great teams. Prove that you have role models who are relevant to the job you want to land. And then, if you want, go ahead and mention your parents, too—and don’t forget to tell them that you did.

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator, and public speaker. Through its online MBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute transforms the lives of its students by providing them with the tools to become better leaders, build great teams, and help their organizations win.

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