A hiring manager will be able to tell a lot about your personality by learning about your other career interests. If you could do anything over, what would you do, and why? A safe answer to this question is to stay in your current career. Avoid saying things like, 'Well, I would have gone into a STEM related-career instead of sales.' You can mention how you would have sped up your career progression if you knew what you now know. An example of this would be, you would not have minored in accounting if you knew you were going to become a software engineer.
"I certainly do not regret the direction I have taken my career; however, if I had to start over in a new direction completely I would likely pursue my Degree in Education and become a teacher. Both of my parents were teachers, and they seemed to have a very fulfilling career. I enjoy coaching and leading others so, any tasks in my current career that related to these skills, are very welcome."
"I am delighted with the direction my career has taken. If I could change anything I would perhaps have furthered my education to include a unique administrative focus; however, I have no regrets!"
"I waited a few years before completing my college degree. While my career has been rewarding, I still wish I had gone to college right after high school."
"I am a creative person by nature. If I could change my career path, I would become a pastry chef! I love to bake and create unique desserts for my family and friends. It started off as a way to blow off steam, but now I spend most of my weekend trying new recipes. It's a great creative outlet."
"Although I do love retail sales, and the variety that each day brings, if I had to start my career all over again I would become a psychologist. I love to learn what makes people tick and helping people overcome problems is a strength of mine because I am level headed and pragmatic."
"I couldn't imagine doing anything but sales! Although still close to being sales, if I had to start a new career path, I would choose to be a trader on Wall Street. It is, and always will be, the thrill of the chase for me!"
"In addition to my teaching career, I have a strong passion for sports. I was an elite athlete in high school and college until I suffered two torn ACL's. Had that not been, I would have pursued a career as a professional athlete and then a coach for professional soccer."
Career progression can be a touchy subject, especially if you feel that your career hasn't progressed as well as you would have liked. Avoid any sob stories with the interviewer. If it shows in your resume, one or two odd career decisions you have made, admit to those mistakes and describe how you have learned from those decisions.
"Overall, my career has progressed a touch slower than I would have liked. I have held a couple of positions that didn't offer the growth and learning that I was expecting; however, I have bounced back nicely. I feel that this particular position would take my career exactly where it should be."
"I am pleased with the progress of my administration career. I have been given some great opportunities, between permanent and temporary gigs, which have offered me exposure to a variety of industries. I feel my knowledge is well-rounded and vast."
"Overall, I am satisfied with my career progression. Everyone, including me, hits roadblocks or setbacks, but I have been able to push through them and stay on track. I am a skilled manager and problem solver."
"I have worked for a smaller agency for the past five years so I would say that my career has not been as fast-moving as it may have had I worked for a larger organization. With that said, the smaller environment offered me more opportunity to take the reigns on projects and gave me further face to face exposure to the agency's clientele."
"I was recently passed up for a promotion into management. The reason being was that another candidate had more tenure with the company. Aside from that hiccup, I feel that my career in retail has unfolded exactly how I wanted."
"I have progressed even faster than I originally planned, which is great! In my current sales position, we have a great deal of employee turnover because the role pays 100% commission. By sticking it out, through the tougher times, I have been able to enjoy multiple promotions."
"I am proud of my accomplishments as an educator, and the path my career has taken so far. After graduating, I spent very little time as a substitute teacher before landing my first full time, permanent teaching position."
Most people have taken on a position that was not a fit for them in the end. It's the best top openly discuss any jobs that you have held that were not a fit. This answer will assist the interviewer in being able to place you within their organization correctly. Be sure to end your response on a positive note, discussing how you bounced back from the misstep.
"Yes, you will see that from March to May 2007 I held a role as Executive Business Development Manager at Company XYZ. This particular role was not what I was expecting and had little to do with management and more to do with cold calling onto C-suite level clients. This job wasn't nurturing my plan to grow the management side of my career, so I resigned after just two months. Luckily I landed a wonderful job immediately after and grew with that company for the following six years."
"Sure, when I was younger and just starting out on my own, paying the bills was very important. You can't sit around and go bankrupt waiting for your dream job. That said, I have never taken a job where I did not tell the hiring manager up front that it was temporary."
"I have not taken a position simply to have a job. I am cautious who I work for and am happy that my discretion has worked well for me and my career path into management. I would certainly not wish for a new hire to use my job opening as a stepping stone. For that reason, I would never do the same."
"I have not taken on a role, knowing it would not be the right step for me. The marketing industry is a small one, and you have to be very careful who you work for because it can make or break your career. I have been passively seeking a new role for the past six months and will only take on a position I know will be mutually beneficial."
"I took a role with a company a couple of years ago that ended up being a pretty terrible decision. The organization was in receivership at the time, and they did not disclose this to me in the interview. So, essentially, I left a pretty good gig to jump on a sinking ship. I learned my lesson that research is imperative. Since then, I have worked only for highly successful organizations."
"When I was new to the workforce, I was easily sold into the dream of making six figures through online sales marketing. Boy, was I wrong! As I grew older and more experienced, I realize how naive I was at that time. Other than that, I have not had a significant career misstep since. I suppose it's a right of passage for any 17-year-old dreaming of making it rich!"
"My career path has been very straight and narrow. I knew from childhood that I wanted to be a teacher and I entered university immediately after high school. I even worked as a tutor to help pay my way through university!"
When an interviewer sees slow career progression on your resume, they will immediately want to determine whether this is by your own choice, any outside circumstances, or if you are not motivated to create growth in your career. If your job has progressed slower than you wish, you must be honest with the interviewer when discussing this.
"I agree with you that my career progression has been slower than some. You will see that between 2001 - 2009 I worked for the same company without an increase in the title. The company was too small to offer a promotion to me as the next level was ownership and the business wasn't for sale. After this, from 2009-2012 I was on leave as I needed to care for my ailing parents. The growth since returning to work has been steady but those years were a bit of a standstill for me. I am ready to spring into action now, and forge ahead in my career."
"I have progressed comfortably in my career as an Administrative Assistant. Although it may not seem as advanced as some, I am content with my progression as it has offered me a manageable pace."
"I agree, I should have seen further career advancement; however, my current organization is a smaller company where the department heads are family members. I do not believe it to be nepotism - simply, I work in a smaller family-run environment and have been there for the past six years. I look forward to furthering career growth with your organization."
"Early in my career, I was left to care for an elderly, sick parent. Her care required more of me than expected, so I allowed my marketing career to sit and wait. I am happy with that decision. Spending those last precious moments with a loved one is worth the setback."
"I feel that being loyal to the company that has groomed my retail sales career is more important than fast and false growth. I am happy with the progression that my career has offered so far but, yes, I am now ready for advancement."
"It certainly appears that way. However, the compensation structure in the position above mine is not as lucrative. I have been offered a promotion numerous times, but I know full well that my earning potential is greater where I am now."
"Advancement in the education realm is a funny thing. I quite like the classes that I teach and, yes, I could advance; however, that would require uprooting my family and moving which I am not willing to do. For myself, being content is more important than the advancement shown on my resume."
This question is a short variation of the typical interview question, 'Where do you see yourself in five years?' Instead, the interviewer may ask more directly, 'Where do you see yourself in the next year?' Interviewing, hiring, and onboarding is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor for any company. The interviewer wants to know that, if engaged, you will see this as a longer-term fit. Discuss your career plans, goals, and how those fit with what this company is offering. Describe your passion for this opportunity, and what you like about the company for which you are applying.
"I am thrilled to be interviewing here for your robotics engineer opportunity. I believe with the talents and skill set I bring to your team, we will solve some very challenging problems. This role is an opportunity I have been seeking for some time now, so I plan to stay for the long term should I be lucky enough to be hired."
"A year from now I would like to be learning and growing in a friendly organization that cares about its customers and its staff. I have been progressing in the administration field for the last three years, and I know there is more to learn such as tricks in Excel, and technical writing."
"One year from now I would like to be well versed in your production operations, and be leading your production team. Perhaps having a few new hires, I would also like to see myself making an impact on your company's employee retention rate and safety records."
"I am currently completing my Copyblogger Certified Content Marketer course. One year from now, I would like to be applying this knowledge to my role with your organization."
"My twelve-month plan is to join your organization and earn my way into a floor manager position. I have a great deal of experience with team management, customer dispute, and inventory. I believe you will see me well-suited for a management role in a short amount of time."
"One year from now I would like to see myself climbing the ranks as your top sales representative in this region. It's important to me that I am a winner - I'm competitive!"
"One year from now I would like to be a solid part of your faculty and this community. It's important to me that I become involved in the community and the lives of my students which is why I would also seek a volunteer opportunity closely related to the school's goals."
Tell the interviewer about a goal you set for yourself, but failed to meet. Show the interviewer that you are ambitious and, rather than giving up, you are going to try to achieve that goal again. Everyone has goals they have failed to reach so do not be embarrassed about that aspect. The interviewer is more interested in knowing that you are persistent and tenacious.
"Last January, I set a goal to learn the Python programming language by June; however, a few unexpected work-based projects came up which slowed my progress. Instead, I have been practicing and studying the language every Sunday evening. I hope to be comfortable with the programming language by August."
"Last year I set a goal for myself to test as an expert user in Excel. I studied online tutorials for weeks and took mock tests as often as I could. When the time came for me to test, I graded at only an Advanced level. I was disappointed that I did not test as an expert; however, I still did very well and continued to work at it."
"One goal I had in mind was to attend two workshops per year, focused on leadership. Volumes in my current organization increased exponentially, which was excellent. However, my goal fell by the wayside. I would like to get back on track with this goal once time allows."
"I set a goal to receive a promotion to marketing manager last year. I did not get the promotion; rather, they transferred an existing manager from an alternate location. It was a disappointment, but I understood their side. It's often easier to transfer than to retrain a new person."
"I set a goal to be a retail store manager by the time I was 25. This goal did not happen, as the company I worked for, for five years, was acquired by a competitor just months before my promotion was to take place. It was a disappointment, but this is what's driving me to apply to bigger and better roles, just like this opportunity!"
"This past year, I wanted to double my sales quota, earning a commission check of $80,000. I worked very hard by making additional cold calls, doubling up on my customer touch points, and being available for my clients 24/7. In the end, I did not reach my goal. However, I did beat my quota by 40% which was still an excellent achievement."
"One goal I set was to take our girls' soccer team to Nationals this year. We practiced frequently, and very hard. We didn't make Nationals, and the girls were disappointed. I took it as an opportunity to take the momentum and re-focus their efforts on next season."
Everyone has had a misstep in their career at one point or another. Perhaps you took a job with a company who was not as reputable as you initially believed. Maybe you accepted a role that was 'oversold' to you. Or, perhaps you declined an opportunity that you now regret passing on. The key to a great answer is to discuss what you did to correct the misstep.
"Last year, I had a management position that would have offered me the leadership experience for which I was seeking. Unfortunately, I turned down the offer for fear that I was not yet ready for the responsibility of being a leader to so many people. My lack of confidence in myself got in the way. I recognized that lack of confidence in myself and changed turned it around by attending three leadership workshops over the next year. Now I am bursting with confidence and am ready to take on this leadership role with your company."
"As a nurse administrator, I have always worked in hospitals. I took the opportunity to work in home health and found that the driving and lifestyle was not for me. I stayed on and trained my replacement; however, the entire experience set me back about one year in my career."
"I would say the biggest misstep I've taken professionally was not being a stronger advocate for myself and my goals earlier in my career. I think I was too concerned with being liked to be a true advocate for what I wanted in my career. Because of this, I believe I was twice passed up for promotions for which I was well suited. I'm embarrassed to say that it took me getting burned twice to make a real change. That said, I have certainly learned from it and have, I believe, perfected the art of self-advocacy!"
"Preceding my better judgment, I chose to join a business who did not have a great reputation. My interviews went well, and I liked the leaders, but it turns out it was a bit of a facade. There were no real policies in place, many unhappy customers, and a lot of defective product. I left after just two months and recalibrated my search, along with the way I vetted future employers."
"Before beginning a career in marketing, I worked as a recruiter for a temp agency. The work was fast-paced and taught me a great deal about the importance of organization and recall; however, the environment was negative. People were not showing up for work, others not getting paid properly. The role quashed my creative mind, so I chose to leave. This misstep is what catapulted me back to college where I completed my marketing degree."
"This is such a common occurrence in a sales role-- they want you to sell, so they oversell you. While I can usually see it coming, I have been fooled before. In a previous role, the recruiter reached out to me with all of the right buzzwords. Even after meeting the key players, I didn't sense anything was off. Unfortunately, it was only after a few months that the house of cards came crashing down. The company had the funding and the right names behind it, but it was all a smoke show. I remained there until it was clear that the company was going to run out of money, so I chose to move to the next role. Overall, it was a great learning experience, and I met some great friends and clients throughout the process."
"The only time I can point to would be that I didn't go back to work sooner after I had my kids. I don't feel it was a wrong decision, per se, but at times I wonder if I should have gone back a few years sooner. I have always known I wanted to be a teacher and it is the only position I've held, aside from being a server while attending school, so I'm pleased to report that I feel I've made overall great career decisions from start to finish."
This question can be a bit tricky to answer since you don't want to give a reply that will make you seem like a bad fit for this role. A general rule of thumb, if it isn't related to our career, you probably should not mention it in an interview. It's fun to think about off-the-wall dreams like becoming a dolphin trainer, but an interview is not the time to express those. Instead, focus on what you aim to gain from this particular company. Perhaps you see yourself in that shiny corner office, or you want to work your way into a territory manager role, jet-setting all over the country to give client presentations and perform essential negotiations. Or, maybe you are already looking at your dream career! Be brief in your answer and express how you plan to see this dream job realized.
"My dream is to be the Controller of this company one day. I plan to start in this cost accountant role and work my way up over the years. It's exciting for me to think about all of the possibilities present in your company."
"I am looking to make my way into an executive assistant position. Supporting your c-suite would be a dream position for me, and I look forward to earning my way into a role like this with your organization."
"I thoroughly enjoy being a manager and a dream role for me would include leading a bigger team, within the production industry. Your position caught my eye because you offer these opportunities and more."
"My dream is to be a marketing director. To get there, I am committed to continued education, taking courses on leadership, and gaining more project management experience. I see that your agency has a few paths available to reach a goal like this one, which is very exciting to me."
"I am very analytically minded and have my eye on becoming a strategic buyer for a large retailer like yours. I look forward to learning the business with your corporation, and earning my way into a buyer position."
"My dream job is one that takes me traveling, offers me a great lifestyle, and opportunity for uncapped commission. I am thrilled that your organization offers all three of these factors and I look forward to showing you what I can do as a business development professional."
"My dream job is being an educator, and I am thrilled that I have made this dream come true for myself. In my opinion, no career path is more gratifying than being an elementary school teacher."
The interviewer would like to know more about your biggest goals when it comes to your career. Have you ever heard author Jim Collins' thoughts on the importance of building a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAD)? The concept is embraced by many organizations where they believe that every person and company should have an ambitious long-term goal that seems near impossible to reach. You can read more about it in Jim's book, 'Build to Last.' Keep your answer career-related and as relative to this particular company as you can. You want to avoid saying that your BHAG is never to work again, or to work for their competition!
"I have a huge career goal that involves me completing my MBA while working full time. I know it will take a great deal of dedication and discipline and it has been done before. I feel that this level of education will greatly assist me in this career."
"I believe in the importance of setting meaningful career goals. When I dream of my ideal career pursuit, I am working towards becoming the executive assistant to the VP of this organization. I know it's a long way from a receptionist role, but I am willing to do what it takes to reach my goals!"
"I encourage my team to have huge goals that seem impossible, yet are exciting. I set these for myself as well! Currently, my biggest career goal is to create an employee training course to be used company-wide. I have a lot of great ideas that have helped to increase tenure and morale."
"My biggest career goal is to have a client portfolio existing of only enterprise-level clients. I know that is a big ask, but I feel that with a lot of hard work, continued professional development, and focus, I will be able to get there. This goal is what led my application to your company. You have bigger opportunities here that I am ready to take on."
"If I could express any professional goal, it would be my dream to be a fashion designer. I feel the best step for me to take towards that goal is to work for a renowned fashion brand such as yours."
"My biggest professional goal has been to be the #1 salesperson in my current organization. We have a sales team of over 200 people and, at this point, I am in the top 10. I would need to sell an additional $1M in products this year to reach that goal."
"I love being an educator and have been enjoying my career immensely over the past 12 years. My biggest dream would be to return to school to achieve my Masters' in Education, returning to be a Principal. I know I possess the leadership skills to succeed at that professional level."
The interviewer would like to know that you are motivated to better yourself personally, and professionally. Career development can come in many forms: - Conferences - Trade Shows - Seminars & workshops - Reading - Podcasts - Online coursework - Finding a mentor Discuss with the interviewer how you plan to develop yourself professionally this year and be sure to tie it into how this goal will benefit their company, should they choose to hire you.
"This year I have set the goal to read one new book per month, all related to leadership, goal setting, maximizing efficiency and other business-related topics. I am just a few months in and can already see how this infusion of knowledge is boosting my work performance."
"The professional goal that I set for myself recently was to find a mentor to assist me in my career. Being newer to my professional career, I felt it was important to consult and meet with someone more seasoned than I. This move to have a mentor can only benefit me and, down the road, I hope to return the favor to someone else who needs a mentor."
"This year I have put requests in to attend a few seminars and workshops on effective leadership and coaching. I want to be able to help my team reach their goals while also feeling fulfilled and happy in their careers. Happy employees always perform better. I look forward to taking what I have learned so far, and applying the concepts to this management role with your company."
"The career development goal that I have set for myself this year is to learn Python. I believe this programming language will be more widely used in the next few years and I want to know everything that I can about how to help my clients with better code."
"Setting career goals is fundamental. This year I set the goal to be promoted to Assistant Manager. I achieved this goal just two months into the year! Now, I have set my sights on a retail management position. This career goal is what drove my application to your company."
"This year I have set the goal to be promoted to a territory sales manager. Currently I perform many of the tasks; however, I do not have the territory management title. I have been applying to companies that I believe will allow me to grow in my career."
"I have set the goal this year, as I do every year, to ensure that each student passes my classes and leaves with a complete understanding of the work. I want to set all of my students up for ultimate success. In return, I become a better educator. Win, win!"
If an interviewer asks you this question, you should be jumping up and down with excitement! As many organizations turn away from the hierarchical organizational structure and lean more toward a flat organizational structure, you will begin to see companies show more concern for the growth and development of their employees. Jackpot! Be prepared to discuss how you like to be motivated, what you may need in your compensation package or even the type of workplace environment you know you need to be successful.
"Thank you for asking! I am seeking to join an organization with a solid succession plan for each position within their company. When I have a clear understanding of where my role can take me, I can better plan for the future and take more direct and successful steps."
"I appreciate you asking this question. For me to be successful and achieve my goals, I would like to know that there is a solid training plan in place for my role. The more comfortable I am in the fact that I am well-trained and knowledgeable, the better I perform."
"My career goals include the successful coaching and training of my team. I am thankful to hear that you understand the importance of supporting your leadership wholeheartedly. To best support me and my efforts, I would ask that you allow me time to get to know each person on my new team and how they tick. From there, I can create an airtight gameplan that will lead us to all-around success."
"I read on your company website that you offer continuing education opportunities for your staff who are performing well. This offering is the best way that you could support my career goals. I am a major proponent of continued education opportunities and employee development, and I am pleased to see that you are as well."
"Since I am new to my career, I feel that the best way to support my career goals is through solid training, mentorship, and continued encouragement. I am very excited to join a team as talented as yours, in my first professional role."
"Thank you very much for asking! As a competitive individual and a salesperson who loves to win, the best thing your organization could offer me are opportunities to attend trade shows, conferences, and other industry events. It's important to me that I have a solid network in my industry and that I can develop face-to-face relationships with potential new customers."
"I can be best supported through a healthy budget, appropriate classroom supplies, and a manageable class size. Also, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to attend professional development conferences as you see appropriate. Thank you for asking."