If you were to accept this position with us today, how would you explain that to a prospective employer five years from now? How would this job provide a link in your future career progression?

Why Ask This Question?

If millennials are looking for employers to meet them halfway, so to speak, in providing a work experience that truly benefits both parties, then it's critical to begin the interview by understanding how candidates see the job helping them over the long run. It's a tougher question for candidates to answer at first glance because it demands a fairly significant amount of career introspection and individual insight, but the selfless nature of the question will help them understand your desire to make it a mutually beneficial relationship.

Analyzing the Response

Forcing someone to make the link between accepting a position now and its benefit to their career five years from now places you into the role of executive mentor and coach, which in and of itself portends well for the relationship. Few interviewers employ this technique, which forces the candidate to sell himself on accepting the position or self-selecting out of the process. Think of the beauty of the query, however: You'll have shifted the career development paradigm to the preemployment process, which makes for a positive impression of your company. And the candidate will naturally think, ''Wow, if they challenge you with these kinds of questions during the interview process, they're obviously serious about career development and growing their people once you're on board.''

And you certainly can expect candidates to think, ''Wow! I've never been asked that before and haven't really given it much thought.'' However, you'll end up with a great opportunity to observe candidates talk through their immediate career needs and longer-term goals out loud and on the spot. Talk about getting to know the real candidate during the interview process!

Let's look at an example. A senior financial analyst from a competitor firm is interviewing for the same position at your company. He's been at his current company for three years and has a total of five years of experience as a senior financial analyst and senior staff accountant. You're thinking, Why would he want another senior analyst role right now? Why isn't he looking for a manager-level position, and what s blocking his progression at this current company?

The candidate responds to your initial ''five-year impact'' question as follows:

''Well, I haven't quite thought of it that way. I feel blocked at my current company from getting ahead, but you're right [wincing]: If I were to accept this lateral position right now, it really wouldn't do all that much for my resume five years from now. I guess maybe this wouldn't be the right position if I want to grow in my career and assume greater responsibilities and title progression.''

And voila, your career-counseling skills thrust the interview into a whole new direction, allowing you to help this candidate get to the real reason behind his job search and the ultimate fit within your organization. In this case, it didn't work to your advantage in terms of hiring the individual. However, that doesn't mean that you wouldn't hire him six months from now when a finance manager role becomes available.

This question may seem like it's primarily for the candidate's benefit. In reality, though, it's primarily for your benefit. The selfless nature of the question will always be well received, but you'll get the bottom-line answer you re looking for: Is this candidate thinking through his career options sufficiently, does he have the necessary longer-term career mentality that you re looking for, and will he remain around long enough for you to recoup your upfront investment in on-boarding and training? If not, then asking the question now will save you lots of time and money by avoiding the turnover which certainly could have happened six months from now, once the honeymoon was over and the individual realized he was pursuing change for change s sake. (Note that this question works particularly well whenever you re interviewing someone who appears to be overqualified for a position.)

 
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