- Insider asked Bank of America exec Katy Ingle what question she asks during job interviews.
- Ingle said she is very focused on what “initiative” an applicant can show.
- That’s often about what you do outside of work, such as playing sports or volunteering, she said.
A lot of executives have a favorite interview question for prospective employees.
Virgin founder Richard Branson has said that asking people “what didn’t you get the chance to include on your CV?” helps him gain a better understanding of a candidate. Oprah Winfrey’s “What’s your spiritual practice?” aims to bring out a person’s “inner relationship with themself.”
The aim is the same: to find out whether a candidate is a good fit.
Insider asked Katy Ingle, Bank of America’s head of diversity and inclusion for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, what questions she asks during interviews, and what applicants should know if they apply for a role at the bank.
Ingle said that she was very focused on what “initiative” a person has shown. That’s not necessarily about their work experience, but about the skills that they can apply to their future job, she said.
“So for me it’s around, can you talk about your outside activities, your outside interests, your passions. What can you bring to the table?” said Ingle. “That can be a good question for asking young people.”
Ingle said that in the past, when she has asked people “what skills can you bring?” during mentoring or classroom sessions, she has been met by blank stares. Asking a person about their interests, however, or what sports teams they’re in, can prompt a different response.
“You start to see those animated people looking at you saying ‘oh yeah I’m the captain of a football team’ or whatever it may be. Then you start to say, well think about the skills; there’s leadership, teamwork, and collaboration,” she said.
In terms of answering a question about initiative and skills, Ingle said that it’s important to be your “authentic self.” There is no perfect response, she added.
“It doesn’t have to be a sports club, it might be that they’re a carer for a family member that they’re able to say my skill set is organization or coordination,” Ingle said.
If people don’t have that, they can use volunteering as a way of showing initiative, she said.
“You can bring skills to the table and we can develop your knowledge,” she said.
It’s important to find a balance between the personal and the professional
A survey of 500 US professionals suggested that “Tell me about yourself” was the most common question asked by recruiters during an interview in 2021.
Research suggests you should speak at a steady pace when answering questions in order to seem more calm, and resist the urge to “humblebrag” about your achievements. Actively asking relevant questions in return can make you look more prepared.
Ingle agreed that finding a balance between your professional and personal life is important.
“They should definitely have read up about the organisation and be able to demonstrate that they’ve done some reading and some preparation for the interview. They should be able to articulate what they’ve seen or heard, and to put that into context,” she said.