Job interview question and answer: What do you see yourself doing in the first 30 days of this job?

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This question may seem pretty tricky to answer at first. Don’t worry, the recruiter does not expect you to know every aspect of the role that you are interviewing for. What they are looking for is a combination of your general knowledge of the role, your ability to express your proactive attitude and, of course, your ability to improvise and communicate clearly when you don’t have all the answers.

You should already know a lot about the business and the role because you’ve prepared for the interview by reading up on the company, and you can use the information you have gathered to answer this question. Consider where the role fits in the structure of the business. Is it an entry-level role where you will be exposed to new processes and systems? Or is it a senior role where you will need to jump in and take responsibility for the productivity of a team?

If you’re interviewing for a junior role, emphasise the ways in which you plan to learn about the business and develop your skills. Talk about how you will approach tasks that you have not done before. If you have received a full job description or a detailed job advertisement for the position, be sure to demonstrate your knowledge of the responsibilities associated with the position.

You should also think back to your first few weeks at your previous job, as this may help you to identify what the major focus will be of your first month with the new company.

The first month in a more senior role will have a very different focus. You may want to discuss how you plan to establish working relationships and how you will gain the confidence of your co-workers. Regardless of how talented and directional you are, you will want to take some time to observe and learn about how the business works, about the office culture, individuals that you will work closely with and the dynamics of your team.

You can then focus on some management strategies that you applied in your previous role or some ideas that you have to move the business forward. While many employers appreciate forward thinking employees, be careful not to come on too strong with all your innovative ideas. It’s wise to first learn how open the business is to change before you bombard them with all your plans!

Take the opportunity to highlight key skills which are relevant to the role. If you are organised and love structure, talk about the way you will plan your workdays and organise your tasks. If you love working with people, talk about how you go about supporting and integrating into new teams. If your work is very technical, discuss some of the skills that you will apply on the job.

Try to keep your answer concise by summarising what you expect to happen in each of the first four weeks of your time on the job, explaining how you see your development and responsibility progressing. Alternatively, you could speak broadly of your expectations for the first month. Discussing how you managed your tasks in your previous role will give you some concrete examples to highlight. Remember, this is not a time to get carried away in the details of job responsibilities! It is a chance to communicate your strengths and enthusiasm for learning and developing in your new role. 

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