I'm the head of talent acquisition at Vanguard. Here are the 3 things I look for in candidates and my favorite interview question to ask.
- Tiffany Haley is the head of global talent acquisition at Vanguard.
- She looks for candidates who are mission oriented, adaptable, and always wanting to learn.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Tiffany Haley, head of global talent acquisition at Vanguard from Malvern, Pennsylvania about how to get a job at Vanguard. It's been edited for length and clarity.
In my role leading Vanguard's global talent acquisition, I'm always blown away by the number of applications we receive.
My team and I keep an "always on" talent mindset, and we receive strong interest from a broad and deep pool of talented candidates for the range of roles we're hiring for at any given time. We're committed to hiring diverse, high-performing, mission-driven talent at all stages of their careers.
For example, we actively recruit candidates just starting out in their careers from colleges and universities across the country for our corporate internship program. We also hold what we call EXPLORE Days, which provide an opportunity to experience our unique culture and network with leaders across our businesses to gain an understanding of what sets us apart as a long-term career destination.
For those looking to re-enter the workforce, we've built a return-to-work program or "returnship" which enables candidates who may have taken a career break the opportunity to refresh and reactivate their skills.
When screening for a role, we look for a range of different abilities and skills that are applicable to the respective opportunity. But these are the three things we try to identify in any candidate for any role at Vanguard:
1. Are you mission-oriented?
The first thing we look for is the most important and sets the tone for the rest of the process: Is this person mission-oriented and do their values align with ours? We want to understand who candidates are as people — what energizes and motivates them.
Having an authentic conversation with a candidate creates a connection that goes deeper than "can this person perform the tasks successfully." When a candidate lights up talking about a topic, you've entered new territory for a conversation that can tell you so much more than bullets on a resume.
I recently spoke with a candidate interested in a role in our advice business. Their experience fit the bill for the role's requirements, but what sold me was this person's passion for giving back to their community. A spirit of caring is foundational to Vanguard's success in serving our clients and our communities, and I knew this individual would appreciate seeing their passion come to life in their role and through other community-based initiatives they could become involved with at our firm.
2. Can you pivot?
We also ask candidates to describe their ability to adapt. Our industry is ever-changing, and so are the needs and aspirations of our clients.
By articulating a time when you had to change course, experiment with a new approach, or identify a creative solution to a problem, you're not only showcasing your skillset. You're also showing me and our team of recruiters that you have the prowess to be adaptable — a fundamental capability in this industry and when serving clients.
3. Do you want to learn and keep learning?
Lastly, we look for individuals who express a desire to continually learn and expand their skill sets. We don't expect candidates to have all the answers or necessarily be a master at their craft when joining Vanguard. We look for an eagerness to stand behind a noble mission, and a commitment to growing their career by seizing development opportunities.
For example, we often interview candidates for our information technology division who might not be fully versed in all of the technologies Vanguard uses to power our business. But when I hear a candidate express their enthusiasm for broadening their skillset by learning a new application or coding language, my ears perk up.
When we find this type of engaged talent, we know it's on us to help provide avenues and tools that enable their learning, so they can ultimately continue to add value to our clients.
The key is for candidates to be able to successfully demonstrate these things in their application and interview to stand out, showcase their value on a resume, and make a lasting impression.
If you don't have the skills, focus on your experiences
I recommend candidates focus on sharing impactful experiences that demonstrate their ability to be successful in the role they're applying for.
A candidate might not have all the skills required for a particular role, but if they're able to provide stories and examples of how they helped drive a positive outcome, achieve a goal, or cultivate a mission, that can be especially memorable.
Our team of recruiters primarily focus on behavioral-based questions so we're able to get a sense of how candidates respond and react to situations they've experienced, how they take action, their working styles, and if they have skills to support the role they're applying for.
I'm a big believer that you don't need to have a stacked resume to share something relevant in your interview. You can draw on experiences and demonstrate value from anything — a volunteering initiative or nonprofit work, classwork, a previous job, and more.
The most important question I want candidates to reflect on is arguably simple but powerful and telling: What motivated you to apply for this role?
We want to understand your interests and what you're looking for in your next role. And we're interested in hearing you articulate what drew you to Vanguard, what impact you'd like to make, and how you're hoping to advance your career here.
My favorite interview question flips a standard one on its head
Instead of asking what candidates want to gain from the role and from working here, I ask them what they want to give. I've seen candidates pause or hesitate slightly since it's a slight deviation from what they were expecting, but it generates robust conversation around how they plan to invest in Vanguard and their career here, and how we invest in their growth along the way.
Their answer goes beyond words, too. A candidate's tone, inflection, and body language can convey so much. Even the most introverted and reserved candidates can light up when you give them the chance to story-tell around how they can contribute.
I recall one candidate who responded to my question by sharing that the average person spends about 37.5 hours working each week. And, if they were going to give that time — one of life's most prized gifts — to their employer, they wanted to do so being challenged with new things to learn each day. That really stuck with me!
If you're a hiring executive who wants to share interview tips, email Jenna Gyimesi at email@example.com.
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