The Second Interview: Winning Over Your Team as a New Leader


Stepping into a leadership role and feeling unaccepted is a challenge. Some people offered you this role, but just because you were chosen doesn't mean everyone chose you.

The Interview Shouldn’t End With a Job Offer

Think back to the last time you interviewed for a job.

Remember all the conversations and the waiting? And waiting. and WAITING.

Perhaps you interviewed with a board or church Elders. Maybe you met with a few other leaders. Some of us even interviewed with the very people we would eventually lead.

Things went well, and, as you hoped, you were offered the job.

You felt chosen.

Not like a superhero or Harry Potter. There were several candidates, and you were selected. You won the organizational hiring bachelor. You got the last rose.

Feeling Chosen

Receiving a job offer can create a false sense of being wanted.

Sure, you’re not “unwanted.” If the hiring team hadn’t wanted you, they wouldn’t have extended an offer to you.

But being chosen by a few doesn’t mean all want you.

“Just because you were chosen doesn’t mean everyone chose you.” – Gavin Adams, Big Shoes To Fill

Leaders who assume everyone is excited to have them lead set themselves up for failure. The reason is simple, really. You weren’t the only person in the process when you interviewed for the role. You may have been the best candidate, but you weren’t the only candidate. Some on your team perhaps liked another candidate better than you. Some on your team may have interviewed for your current role. The interpersonal dynamics can become quite complex. 

We tend to reduce the interview process to our interview process, neglecting the many other people affected by the hiring decision.

When we receive a job offer, we feel chosen, and that feeling can create plenty of obstacles upon stepping into a new role.

The Interview AFTER the Job Offer

When a leader steps into a new role, the temptation is to assume everyone accepts you and is ready to follow you. While some team members are excited to have you onboard, that’s not necessarily true of everyone on the team. Or in the organization.

The best mentality for a leader in a new position is to allow the interview process to continue. This time, you aim to win the team rather than earn the role. How? Not to oversimplify it, but what if you allowed your new team members to interview you?

Seriously. What if you asked each person on your team to interview you to help you learn more about each other?

In my new book, Big Shoes To Fill, I devote an entire section to learning – learning the team, the organization, and yourself.

As you’re leading a team, allowing the team to interview you post-hire is a wonderful way for everyone to learn more about you. And for you to learn about them.

Your Team Wants To Know…

I know you want to learn a lot about your team. But your team wants to understand a lot about you, too. The best path to learning about them is to create a psychologically safe space. Psychological safety begins with your openness and willingness to answer their questions.

What question do you think your team is wondering about you? If you were in their shoes, what questions would you want to ask if given the chance?

Here are a few to get you started:

  1. What do you value in a team member?
  2. What expectations matter the most to you as a leader?
  3. If you could tell me one thing about yourself, what would you say?
  4. What kind of people typically work best with you? For you?
  5. What kind of person have you struggled to lead well?
  6. How can I help you succeed?

During your “after-interview,” you’ll also be able to ask your new team members some specific questions, like:

  1. What is the most valuable use of your time? The least valuable?
  2. Who do you work well with? Why?
  3. What do you hope I will do?
  4. What do you hope I won’t do?
  5. What one thing can I do to help make your job easier?
  6. What is one tool you are missing that would help you accomplish more?
  7. If you could change one thing about the organization, what would that be?

NOTE: On pages 98 – 100 of Big Shoes To Fill, I offer question suggestions for several categories of people.

Becoming Chosen By Everyone

These personal interactions are critical to your long-term leadership success. While you may get away with leading through positional authority for a season, eventually, your relational influence will determine your leadership longevity.

People may obey your position and authority, but they’ll follow your influence.

As Chery Bachelder told me during our interview for the book,

“The quality of your relationships determines the quality of the work you can do.” – Chery Bachelder

Relationships are built one conversation at a time. You probably have things you’d like to change, products and services to launch, and ideas to formulate, but your hopes and dreams will fall flat without the team. You’ll need to endear the people to make progress as a leader. That begins with allowing them all to choose you.

Take some time to foster relationships with everyone on the team. I’m not suggesting they all become your best friends, but they all need to know you as a person, not just a position.