Why Great Candidates Ask About Career Advancement


One of the most interesting aspects of the interview process is the subject of discussing career advancement.

When discussing requirements, nearly every hiring manager often desires ambitious candidates and realises the importance of hiring people who want to exceed expectations, look to grow and develop new skills and qualities that can  benefit the overall organisation.

Yet when it comes to decision making time, things can be very different.

In fact, in many cases hiring managers turn down candidates because they believe they are too ambitious. We’ve all experienced instances where candidates are told they are “too big” for the role, or when the hiring manager is worried they’ll stay for six months and then leave for a bigger opportunity elsewhere.

Or even worse, for hiring managers to fell threatened by hiring ambitious people since they might even have their eyes on the manager’s own position.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In ten years as a recruiter, I can say with confidence that the best hiring managers are those who hire ambitious people. The people who are interested in career advancement. The rare individuals who want to contribute more than what the job spec says. The ones who become future leaders and allow both themselves and their hiring manager to move up, develop and grow.

Asking questions about career advancement and development opportunities in an interview doesn’t mean a candidate is bored by the job on offer. It means they’re looking to go the extra mile and want room to grow.

Here are some reasons why great candidates ask questions about career advancement.

It shows ambition

Top performers always want more.

Whether it’s an athlete looking to break more records, an entrepreneur wanting to create an even bigger business or an inventor pushing the barriers of possibility to the extreme, without ambition civilization would stand still.

Without ambition, the best you can achieve is mediocrity, and more often sub-performance and failure. And in today’s ultra-competitive business world this simply isn’t enough.

By asking questions about career advancement in the interview process, candidates demonstrate they are looking to prove themselves and earn further responsibility. That they possess ambition.

It’s ambition that breeds innovative ideas. It’s ambition that causes a salesperson to keep going even when the odds are stacked against them. It’s ambition that makes working long hours and making sacrifices worthwhile.

Ambitious workers means ambitious performance.

It shows honesty

Want to hear the ironic thing?

Nearly everyone is ambitious.

In over a decade as a recruiter working with over 15,000 candidates I’ve still yet to meet a single person who doesn’t want more. What differs is what our ambitions are and how much effort we are prepared to put in to make them happen.

The best hiring managers realise that candidates who ask questions about career advancement during the interview process have the confidence to ask direct questions that most others are simply to afraid to ask. They are honest enough to say what’s really important to them. They quickly demonstrate transparency and trust that is both rare and valuable.

Most candidates simply say things they think the hiring manager wants hear.

The best ones aren’t afraid to express their own ambitions and desires.

It prevents disappointment

But perhaps most importantly, by understanding a candidate’s ambitions and desires before employment, hiring managers can reduce something that occurs every day in the business world.

Post-hire disappointment.

Candidates who ask about career advancement are excercising their own due diligence.  They create a safety valve that allows hiring managers to determine whether or not they can actaully match what the candidate themselves is looking for. Rather than both hiring manager and candidate presume that they’re both looking for the same thing, it actually increases communication and transparency.

Great candidates understand that interviews are not simply about trying to to land every single job opportunity. They’re about exchanging information, managing expectations and exploring ambitions on both sides.

And then determining if there is a match.

Great candidates minimise the risk of disappointment.


You’d like more work ethic. You want better performance. You’d love more commitment.

In return what most candidates want is simply the chance to advance and grow.

The best hiring managers never view candidates who focus on career advancement as potentially less interested in the current job on offer. They view them as people who are just interested in growing and adding more and more value each day.

With people like that, any hiring manager will be successful.

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