“I’m a real go-getter!” 

These words are easy to say, which means that candidates in sales and marketing interviews often say them. And while they tell you how the candidate would like to be perceived, they don’t indicate how ambitious the candidate actually is. 

Here are some more effective ways to measure a candidate’s ambition. 

Ask them about their career goals. 

The classic interview question “tell us about yourself” can reveal a great deal about a candidate, from their ability to examine their own motivations to their understanding of their audience and purpose to their actual ambition levels.  

When you ask a candidate to talk about themselves or their career goals, listen for descriptions of ambitious goals, as well as descriptions of ambitions the candidate has already fulfilled. They’ll tell you not only whether the candidate claims ambition, but also whether they approach life ambitiously. 

Ask them how they achieved a past position. 

Some candidates’ resumes indicate ambition: They describe a quick rise through a number of challenging positions in the past. Yet the resume only provides a timeline. It doesn’t tell you how the candidate drove that rise through the ranks. 

By asking how the candidate achieved a particular position, you gain insight into how proactive the candidate tends to be in their career growth. For example, a candidate who describes how they set their sights on a role and strove for it demonstrates ambition in action. A candidate who shrugs and says, “well, they needed someone” may be less ambitious.

Ask them about a time they failed.  

The most ambitious candidates see failure as an opportunity. They gloss quickly over any disappointment the failure caused, and they set their sights on what they can learn and how they can adapt their approach to achieving their goal.  

When asking candidates about past failures, listen for stories that focus on learning, growth, and achievement despite higher-than-anticipated odds. These candidates are demonstrating their ambition-led mindset when it comes to challenges.  

Looking for new talent? The staffing partners at SMR Group can help. We connect our clients in the medical device, biotech, and pharmaceutical industries with some of the best sales and marketing talent available. If you’re looking for a real go-getter, contact us today. 

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