The roll your eyes test

There are a great many things that make the graduates we work with as valuable to our customers as they are.

Let me start again, because if I don’t re-write that sentence now the rest of this blog post is going to be filled with my regret at a missed opportunity. So here it goes

There are a great many things that make an Arch Graduate as valuable to our customers as they are.

That’s better.

Let me try and explain what I mean. We have a number of examples where our customers have brought (typically) a small team of Arch Graduates in to their organisation to act as a catalyst for (and enabler of) digital transformation. I strongly believe that this is both the perfect way of working with us and, crucially, only made possible only by the sort of graduates that we work with.

So let’s talk about the ‘sort’/ ’type’/ 'kind' of person we work with for a minute.

I’ll start with our selection process, which is very tough, not tough in the way that the selection process for the marines is tough, but tough as we typically work with about 1 in 40 of our applicants. Let me say that the other 39 graduates are very good – 20 of them are what anyone would consider a superstar, excellent academic achievers, almost always a lot of good internships/work experience and really great people. However, like I said at the beginning we look for a very specific ‘sort’ of person to join one of our programmes.

The reason for this? Well, exactly like I said at the top. If our customers are going to be working with our graduates to instigate and run significant programmes of change then our graduates have to have all sorts of natural skills far beyond those required if they were to join a traditional graduate scheme.

Let me clarify - I believe that we could put just about anyone into our 12 week training programme and they’d come out with an incredibly valuable skill set. They’d be able to sit in any digital team in the world and add significant value to it straight away, BUT (first capitalisation of this post!) they wouldn’t necessarily be the obvious choice to lead the team. They wouldn’t necessarily be the catalyst for digital revolution that we spoke about earlier.

To be an Arch Graduate (see what I mean about needing to get into this habit at the beginning) you need to have true, bullet proof resilience, the sort that you can’t necessarily learn. You need to have highly developed emotional intelligence. You need to be socially intelligent (one of my favourite terms) and beyond this you need to be naturally fascinated. If you have these qualities AND the training we put you through at the beginning (and then throughout the scheme) then you’re likely to be the sort of person our customers need.

But how on earth do you assess all this?

Well, there’s lots of ways, and the pretty unrelenting interview and assessment sessions we run get us there, but the whole point of this post is that we think we may have developed a single test. A one size fits all test that you can apply to almost anyone.

YET AGAIN we’ve had an almightily long intro before we get to the point….

Here is how the test works. I will pick a very specific example in order to explain it as clearly as possible.

Margot is a maths graduate with a 1st from Imperial. Margot is as good at using Microsoft Excel as anyone you’ve ever met. When she uses Microsoft Excel she doesn’t use a mouse because she knows ALL the keyboard shortcuts. Margot is utterly exceptional with Excel, she uses it to do things that you didn’t know it could do and while she uses it she looks like a pianist playing a piano concerto at the Royal Festival Hall.

Here is the test.

If you put Margot in a classroom with 15 people for a week, to learn how to use Microsoft Excel right from the very beginning up to the level of using Macros (which is the level Margot reached when she was 15) would she, at any point, during five 8 hour days of training, roll her eyes?

Only (and I do mean only) if you are certain that she would definitely not roll her eyes at any point does she pass the ‘roll your eyes test’.

There is a version of Margot (I’ve met her and others like her) that would find being in this classroom fascinating. Getting the opportunity to watch someone teach a subject she knows, to help others learn something she loves, to support colleagues and friends, to be a calming influence in a room where others are feeling pressure. She’d genuinely see this as a positive experience and be excited and engaged throughout.  

You can apply this test to anyone you’re interviewing. Ask them what subject they know better than any other, then, in your own mind, apply the ‘roll your eyes test’. Imagine them in a classroom of 15 people being taught the basics of the subject they’re an expert at and ask yourself “would they roll their eyes?”

For us here at Arch Graduates it’s the person who finds fascination in things others don’t, who instinctively supports those around them that we believe will add transformational value to our customer’s businesses.

This is one of the key ingredients to being an Arch Graduate.

Speak next week.

As always, here to discuss –