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Job interview question and answer: What are your new year's resolutions?

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© courtneyk | iStock

If a question like this crops up, it’s safe to assume that your interviewer is interested in more than just your well-intentioned resolve to quit smoking and join the gym.

More than likely, they are attempting to gauge your capacity to set achievable goals and recognise potential areas for self-improvement. If you haven’t already taken the time to identify some areas that could do with an overhaul or a fresh injection of enthusiasm, then now is the perfect opportunity.

Whilst personal resolutions aren’t strictly off limits, it’s best to focus on a career-oriented response that clearly brings to light your drive and ambition. Your prospective employer is seeking a candidate who demonstrates initiative, determination and clarity of vision, so be sure to choose examples to this effect. If you’re looking to inch your way higher up the corporate ladder, then you might mention your intention to take on more responsibility or expand upon your previous roles. Perhaps you’re just starting out, and need time to get some more experience under your belt? Then highlight your commitment to learning new skills, acquiring an advanced qualification or gaining more hands-on experience. Any answer that establishes your thirst for professional development and achievement is sure to hold you in good stead.

Go one step further by providing a response that ties in with the company ethos or core values; perhaps they place an emphasis on ecological sustainability or a team-centric work environment. By highlighting your commitment to similar objectives, you suggest to the interviewer that you will be a neat fit within their organisation.

Rather than get bogged down in your perceived shortfalls and bad habits, remember to draw attention to your ability to self-reflexively identify some areas that could afford to be brought up to speed with your other competencies. Use phrases such as ‘My goal is to improve upon…’ as opposed to negatively geared talk of being ‘bad’ at something. Focus on using proactive, positive language – this isn’t the time for self-deprecation.

Although personal goals aren’t altogether taboo, steer clear of providing anything overly sensitive or downright irrelevant. Resolutions that paint a well-rounded picture of your work/life balance can play well, particularly when they foreground your motivation or integrity. Citing your ambition to run a marathon or volunteer for a charitable organisation can work, but be wary of coming across as contrived.

Depict yourself as driven, self-aware and goal-oriented, and your new year’s resolution to get a great new job just might come true. 

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