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In a recent telephone interview, I was asked to "describe [my] personal and professional network". The job was a junior engineer position in a European satellite company, which I applied to after graduation. My question is: what would the interviewer be looking for in the candidate, in response to this?

I can only guess that they would hope to see evidence that the candidate has been part of a hard-working, perhaps international, bunch at university/in internships. But I could be completely off the mark.

closed as unclear what you're asking by gnat, dwizum, Snow, DarkCygnus, Rory Alsop Apr 20 '18 at 14:00

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  • What kind of engineering? Software, eletronic, civil, ...? – Juha Untinen Apr 18 '18 at 10:51
  • Unfortunately, we can also just try to guess as well what they are looking by asking that – DarkCygnus Apr 19 '18 at 22:58
  • Responding to the "put on hold": There are a lot of questions on The Workplace asking for advice about specific interview questions, that have not been closed. Should I rephrase this to ask how to respond to the interview question? – binaryfunt Apr 20 '18 at 15:41
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Some key things they would be looking for are (a) that you made an effort to connect with and keep in touch with classmates and people you have worked with, and (b) you were active in professional organisations or attending professional events related to your industry, and making connections there.

You should mention how your network has helped you in the past - this is evidence that you make meaningful connections that bring value.

If you happen to know someone in that industry that the interviewer knows then that will really make you stand out.

They want someone who is good at connecting with people, and who is keen to go out there and make business connections that could benefit their company (and if you already have those connections, then that's a big bonus).

As a student I made an effort to get involved in professional organisations related to my industry, and saw that employers really value this. It's an easy way to make you stand out.

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Unless the job is based on contacts (such as sales engineer), I think they are looking for information about your personality in a way. Ie. did you make a lot of friends during your studies, since you're applying for a junior position, and what kind of friends. Basically how active you were during your studies in discussing ideas and maybe doing some prototype projects with your classmates.

They might be also looking for information on who (= a more experienced person, possibly a parent of your class mates) could give you a reference.

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“Describe your personal and professional network.”

My question is: What would the interviewer be looking for in the candidate, in response to this?

We can only imagine what the other person is thinking ...

  • They want to know that you:

    • are well connected with people whom would benefit the business.

    • speak well of others.

    • know famous and important people, that you're a namedropper.

  • It's a personality test:

    • how do you handle off the wall questions, random unrelated input.

    • do you tell people that you know reasonable people, or speak of your drinking buddies.

    • is everyone you know categorically similar.

  • They're reading off a script:

    • someone came up with: it's a useful question to ask everyone, so ask.

    • they've had problems with other employees and their life away from work.

    • they ran out of questions and wanted to think up a better one, so they stall with this.

What would they expect you to say about people you associate with, something negative?

Unless these people are going to affect your work, or you'll be expected to recruit them, or tell them what a great company it is then I don't see how the question is either universally applicable or specifically useful when recruiting a junior Engineer - was your Engineering School known for stunts/pranks/problems?

Obviously you'll want to provide a short list of useful and interesting people whom you've not been in contact recently and provide a positive tidbit about each of them.

Sort of like: "Tell me about yourself ...", but it's "tell me about whom you know".

It also depends upon how the interview seems to be going ...

They might be trying to get you to engage in conversation and assess if you seem like a likeable person. I been to so many interviews where it seemed like the owner really didn't know much about the subject at all, they just wanted to chat to see if they liked you before handing you off to someone else.

It's tough to assess these things without more context, so you might consider replying with the generic answer I offered 4 paragraphs previous.

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I've never heard or asked this question in any technical interview I've been in, so in addition to the above excellent comments (which I've +1'd) my only response is to echo that it's likely they are evaluating your ability to maintain good relationships with others in your field, and if you have any mentors.

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