What Employers Really Want: Growth Potential


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This is one of a series of posts based on LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions’ Guide: 30 Behavioral Interview Questions to Identify High-Potential Candidates.

Here’s the list of the qualities managers value:

  1. Adaptability
  2. Culture add
  3. Collaboration
  4. Leadership
  5. Growth potential
  6. Prioritization

The Millennial generation cares about growth, and they understand that it’s their own responsibility. That’s why so many of them ask about growth potential early on in their careers. I think that’s a great improvement over the passive approach that previous generations have taken. When employees ask for more responsibility, it shows that they understand the correlation between more challenging work and compensation.

You can gauge potential for growth by offering frequent opportunities to learn and perform new tasks. Employees who enthusiastically take on new challenges – and master them – are worth your investment of time and energy.

Here’s what LinkedIn’s manual says about Growth Potential:

“Today’s fast-paced work environments require employees who can do the job now, and have the potential to grow into new roles or leadership positions at your company in the future. After all, if an employee leaves, it costs your company 1.5 times that employee’s salary to replace her. That means that hiring people who have the potential to grow within your company not only saves you the pain of replacing them, but also saves you money.”

Here are questions managers recommend to screen for growth potential:

  • Recall a time when your manager was unavailable when a problem arose. How did you handle the situation? With whom did you consult?
  • Describe a time when you volunteered to expand your knowledge at work, as opposed to being directed to do so.
  • What would motivate you to make a move from your current role?

I would add these:

  • Do you see yourself as a specialist or generalist? Why? How could a manager support your growth in that role?
  • If you could design the perfect career path for yourself, what would it look like?

If you have a high growth potential worker, be aware that they probably value growth over company loyalty. You’ll need to offer them opportunities to learn and take on more challenging work, and you’ll need to reward them for their efforts. If your company can’t or won’t, they will soon be looking for one that will.

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