In this week’s reflection of “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman, we are going to discuss the final chapter and final thoughts I have of the book as a whole.


One of the main focuses of the final chapter revolves around the art of interviewing for talent. The authors break down this objective into a five-step process.


The first, make sure that the talent interview stands alone and is separate from other aspects of the interviewing process. Both the manager and the interviewee should understand that this interview is exclusively reserved for learning about the interviewee’s talents. The talent interview’s sole purpose is “to discover whether the candidate’s recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior match the job.


The second, ask a few open-ended questions and then try to keep quiet. Open-ended questions allow the candidate to take his answer in a number of different directions. It allows the manager or interviewer an opportunity to evaluate the response. Things such as how quickly a candidate comes up with an answer, how they relate it to previous experiences and how consistent their answers are with other information gathered about the candidate prove to be valuable when evaluating whether the candidate may be a good fit for the job. It is important for the manager to remain quiet and not guide the candidates answer in a “right” direction.


The third, listen to the specifics of the answer. This builds off of step number two. The authors state that “past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior.” So asking open-ended questions regarding past experiences can help give managers a better idea of what type of employee the candidate has been in the past and will most likely be in the future. Listening for specific examples or experiences is important because in most cases if a candidate can clearly recall certain experiences then it is likely that the behavior associated with that experience is a recurring behavior for the candidate. Again, this allows a manager to formulate a better understanding of the type of employee the candidate will be.


The fourth, look for any clues that tell you about the candidate’s talents. The book describes rapid learning ability and personal satisfaction as two of the most important ones to fish for.


The fifth, know what to listen for. Only ask questions to which you know how top performers would respond.



Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to anyone who is in a managerial role or would like to be in the future. It provides a lot of insight into some best practices for the role of manager. I really enjoyed reflecting on past experiences, both as an employee and as a manger, while reading through this book. I was better able to understand the faults of some of the poor managers I have worked for as well as the strength of the excellent ones I had the pleasure of working with. It certainly has me self-evaluating my own managerial skills and learning that each employee will require different forms of leadership in order to turn their unique talents into performance.

4 thoughts on “Final Chapter and Final Thoughts

  1. Hi Zach,

    It sounds like it was a great book with lots of good gems of knowledge to take from. I have done a fair bit of interviewing across several companies and have not been great about it. One interview that stood out where I was wrong was a candidate I didn’t believe would have been a good fit. I would have passed on the candidate, but we had a committee approach, who ultimately overruled me. This person became one of the best folks I have ever worked with. If I had applied a little more of a methodological approach, similar to what is listed in your post, I might have been able to sniff out the skillsets that made them so great to work with. Thanks, Ed

  2. Hi Zach,

    Honestly, this kind of interview sounds wonderful to me. From both sides of the desk. My partner is currently job hunting and she has shared some horror stories of 3 or 4 people just reading from prepared questions one at a time with no dialogue back and forth. I think it’s important for any interview to be a conversation and to leave room for further discussion instead of rote responses.

    I find the fifth step to be a bit lacking for me. Perhaps there is more elaboration in the book, but if you’re only listening for a certain response then you may miss something truly special from a candidate. Although, if you’re only looking for a certain type of candidate then maybe limiting your expectations is appropriate.

  3. Dillon Anderson says:


    Love the review! Just like you, I personally believe that one can simply take control of a conversation just by asking the other party open-ended questions. Having strategies to make another party willingly and comfortably converse with you is step number one in creating a large and resourceful network.

  4. As an entrepreneur, i am learning that the interview process is one of the most important processes of building an organization. I like how you highlighted the “open ended questions” process, which is widely used when interviewing prospective candidates. From my personal experience, this is how i was able to literally gain employment from every job interview i’ve had. As a prospective candidate, i not only sold my experience, but was able to share my vision and outlook on prospective accomplishments i wanted to make under the organization. I agree past behavior is a good way to measure future behavior, BUT an organization should also ask itself “how can we enhance this candidates potential?” which i don’t think a lot of employers think about.

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