Mark Zuckerberg recently shared his #1 hiring rule with an audience in Barcelona—and it’s a little surprising:

I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person.

What does that mean, exactly? He elaborates:

In an alternate universe, if things were different and I didn’t start the company, I would be happy to work for that person. Or if Facebook just disappeared and I had to go find something else to go do, then I’d be happy to go work for that person.

OK, so while being part of Mark Zuckerberg’s inner circle is quite a lofty aspiration, consider that other hiring managers probably think this way, too (especially after hearing it from the head of Facebook). So, in your own interviews, it’s worth considering how you can show that you’d not only be a great employee, but a great leader—so great that your future boss would be willing to work for you.

The good news? Anyone can do this, even if you’ve never been a manager before.

First, remember that leadership is less about the skills outlined on your resume and more about your character. Incredible leaders are respectful and they show integrity. They think beyond themselves and make smart, thoughtful decisions that are best for the team. They clearly understand what they’re best at and what they’d prefer to delegate to others. They’re passionate about what they’re working on, and they let that shine through in everything they do.

There’s lots more on what makes a great leader (this article by Inc. is particularly worthy of a read), so work on honing some of those qualities and looking for ways to put them in practice. Leadership coach Jo Miller shares a few ways to start showing you’re a leader at the office, no matter what your role. Then, as you plan the stories you’re sharing in your interviews, think about ways to showcase those traits and experiences.

But, perhaps more importantly, make sure you pass the “Airport Test.” Career expert Meredith Pepin gives a full rundown of the concept here, but the gist is: Be someone your future employer wouldn’t dread being indefinitely stuck in an airport with. Be someone others would want to get to know better and work with every day. Be kind, open, honest, and personable. Be yourself.

No, not everyone hires like Zuck does. But showing your potential boss that you have the potential to be a leader—and a great co-worker—won’t steer you wrong.


See What It’s Like to Work at Facebook


Photo of Mark Zuckerberg courtesy of Shutterstock.