One Question to Ask Every Grad at Interview

Whenever someone comes into an interview, it is vital to gain an understanding of their personal values. When someone has a track record of previous employment, it is not so hard to perceive their values from their past behaviour. However, when a grad comes in who knows little else but work placements and holiday jobs, it is a little harder to get to the bottom of how they operate.

Any values-based discussion must contain an element of imagination. For me, therefore, one of the most interesting questions is this:

“Which behaviours will help you to get promoted?”

Ambitious graduates don’t join a company to sit at the same desk for the next five years. They want to get involved in the action, and they want to make a difference. Even on their first day, their thoughts are trained on what they will have to do to take that next step. This can be a little annoying for some of their colleagues, but this level of drive is why they were hired in the first place. They want to go places, and this can’t happen without a great amount of thought and effort.

These thoughts start way before they even get their first role. They have a view on the sort of employee they want to be, and if you touch on the subject at interview, you will likely receive a series of carefully considered thoughts as to how they want to go about building their career. This is an incredibly good place to start a values-based discussion.

Their answers to this question also reveal how well they have researched the company and the particular role. If there is an obvious mismatch between their expectations and the reality, you can be sure that they will be the type of people to become disillusioned and disruptive sooner rather than later. If, on the other hand, they show a deep understanding of the company culture and see how they will fit in, the discussion becomes a genuine exploration of mutual interests. This is where both parties start to get that magical feeling that they would enjoy working with each other, even though there is not so much tangible proof that this would be the case.

When people talk about their ideals of behaviour, a pinch of salt must be added, but you know when they are genuine about their intentions – their eyes light up, and their body language gets that little bit more animated. Being asked to imagine how you would behave in the job is an exciting discussion for anyone who has a genuine desire to join the company – painting a picture of where you would love to be is not a difficult task.

There is no right answer to this question. That will depend on the personality of the manager in question and the demands of the job itself. You can, however, be sure of one thing – if they say “I don’t know” then they aren’t the right person for the job.

Great grads have a vision for their career before they even start. Explore it at interview.