Who Are Your Heroes?

At the Academy Awards, Matthew McConaughey gave the most talked about speech of the evening upon receiving the Oscar for Best Actor of the year. The speech begins about 45 seconds in.


Matthew McConaughey – Acceptance Speech…

At about 2:40 in, McConaughey answers my favorite interview question. In fact, if I could only ask a candidate one question, it would be “Who are your heroes and why?” I guess that is actually two questions.

My reason is that it is the best question in order to get to know someone. Most people answer family members, spouse, parents, grandparents, even their kids.

While there is no right or wrong answer to the question, the answer I like to hear least is, “No one, I do not have heroes.” To be frank, if I am the interviewer and someone answers the question this way, it is highly unlikely I would recommend hiring that person not matter how qualified they were for the position.

I thought McConaughey’s answer was excellent.

What are your thoughts on the question and McConaughey’s answer?

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6 Responses to “Who Are Your Heroes?”

  1. Jerry Norman March 6, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I think the problem with your premise is the word, “hero.” I have some people who I admire and respect greatly. But I don’t go for “heroes.” Being asked the question would stump me.

    However, asking me who I “admire” and why would fully engage my brain in a fashion you seek: understand what I value in people.

    Words really do matter. Some people talk in extreme terms. Most people with whom we want to do business do NOT think that way. So we must pay attention to how we communicate with them or risk having them go talk to somebody else.

    • Robert Wood March 20, 2014 at 9:01 am #

      Jerry, I wouldn’t want to live in a world with no heroes. I think the problem many people have with heroes is that they expect their heroes to be super human, and they’re not. Our heroes are human and have human frailties.

  2. Ed Kless March 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Yes, I have heard that take, except the definition of hero is “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”

    I probably would not hire you, Jerry, but then again, you probably would not hire me either. :)

    • Leon Newman March 15, 2014 at 7:55 am #

      Wait a minute. Your answer to a very legitimate (and possibly very informative about character) question regarding the value of the question itself is “I won’t hire you because of semantics” ?

      I’m blown away by this.

      If the premise of your post is that a single answer to a really boring question could say something of value about a person you are more right than you can possibly imagine.

      • Ed Kless April 3, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

        Yes. Semantics are important to me. I want to work with people for whom semantics is important to as well.

  3. Robert Wood March 20, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    When I think of a hero, I think of someone I would like to be more like in specific ways. I think McConaughey is using the concept of a hero as a way to drive himself to be the best Matthew McConaughey that he can be. It’s a good use of the idea of a hero.

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