Why Gen. Stanley McChrystal Asks Every Job Candidate This Unusual Interview Question

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Harvard McChrystal
By Richard Feloni

For the past four years, retired General Stanley McChrystal has overseen the management consulting firm he founded, the McChrystal Group.

When he looks to build his team, he or one of his executives asks job candidates an unusual question inspired by the military regarding self-perception.

Although a 2010 Rolling Stone article that represented McChrystal and his aides as critical of leadership in the White House resulted in his ouster as the top general in the Afghanistan war and his resignation, his legacy is marked by his success in creating the counter-terrorism approach the Army still uses, as well as his ability to coordinate communications among US special forces.Through his consulting firm, McChrystal applies the same tactics that kept America's elite forces working smoothly to the corporate world, advising companies like Intuit and Seagate Technology.

He and his firm's chief growth officer, former Navy SEAL officer Chris Fussell, spoke with "The 4-Hour Workweek" author Tim Ferriss on his podcast about their new business book, "Team of Teams."

McChrystal says that when he's interviewing job candidates, he'll ask them what someone who doesn't like them would say about them.

"It puts a person in the position of having to try to articulate what they think the perception of them by others is," McChrystal says. The content of the response is less important than how it's delivered. After all, McChrystal says, in the vetting process they will dig up as many positive and negative traits as possible.

The question forces candidates to consider their least attractive qualities and also muster enough courage to share them with someone who holds power over their careers.

Fussell adds that he would ask this question of SEALs in the interview process for rising through the ranks.

Whether it's asked of a Navy SEAL or someone applying to a consultant position, the individual's reaction to the question is "a window into personality, I think," McChrystal says.

You can listen to the full, in-depth podcast interview at Ferriss' website or iTunes.
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