3 Simple Tips to Prepare Your Career Interview Question in Advance

A good career interview question helps you to discover more about yourself and your career goals. Plus, you will get important feedback from others about your career development plan and what you need to do to implement it effectively.

Discover how to get the most from a career interview question... Follow these 3 steps to learn what to include, set it up and run it effectively.

1. What to include

A career conversation should be a meaningful discussion between you and another person who is providing you advice.

The career interview question you include and the topics you choose to cover in the conversation should be guided by your overall career goals and objectives and your career research plan.

Topics to consider in your career interview question are:

  • General discussion - you should feel comfortable having a general discussion with your immediate manager at any time about your career. It is always good to talk about how you are progressing in your current job, the kind of experiences you are gaining and also discuss issues or concerns you may have. You should be able to have a good and meaningful dialogue with your manager or the person giving you advice. Also, use everyday opportunities such as casual conversations to develop a good working relationship with your manager - this will pay off in the long run and will help you in your career development.
  • Competency assessment and gaps - a career skill or competency assessment is best done with someone like your immediate manager. Prepare in advance by doing a self-assessment around the core competencies of your job and department. Assess where you are , what your gaps are and also some ideas you have around action steps to close those gaps. Then include this in your career interview question and ask your manager for their feedback. Be open to their suggestions. They may not completely agree with your self assessment so be prepared to have a two way dialogue. If you have many gaps ask for their advice on which gaps to close first. Get their feedback on your strengths as they see it - as others may see things that you don't. You can also ask them how they developed themselves. You may get some new ideas and insight from this discussion.
  • Development plan - this can also be part of your career interview question. You can have a discussion around your development plan before you put it together, as you are progressing or even as you complete it. It is useful to bounce the plan off others such as your manager so they give you objective feedback and also make some recommendations for improvement. Pay attention to the ways you are going to develop yourself and ask for advice. You may be surprised to find out many new ways of developing yourself that you may not have thought about before.
  • Future aspirations - career interview questions can be around your career wants and needs , a particular position, department or profession you aspire to inthe future. If your career change involves staying with the same company then have a discussion with your manager first. He or she may then point you in the right direction and even advice you on who else you should meet.

2. How to set it up and run it effectively

Follow the simple tips below to set up and run a career conversation effectively. Respect both your time and the other person's time and plan on getting the most from the session.

  • Define objective and prepare questions - decide early on what you want to include in your career interview question and achieve during the conversation. Write down your goals and objectives and ensure you have adequate time to cover them. It is better to focus on a few vital career interview questions than trying to rush through an entire list. Also, give some thought to the questions you are going to ask and prepare well in advance.

  • Identify the person - once you have an idea about your objectives it is time to select the appropriate person. Ideally start with your manager but also be open to having a conversation with other managers, subject matter experts, colleagues, role models, mentors and generally people you respect and trust. You could also contact industry experts from industry bodies and specialist recruitment companies for advice. Look around you and do not be afraid to ask - sometimes people we would not have picked or do not want to talk to may have some valuable insight.

  • Pick a time and a place - pick a time and place that is convenient and conducive to having a good conversation. Be open to requests from the person you are meeting if they have a preference for a certain time/venue. It is best to avoid the start and finish of a week and also noisy places. A one hour discussion should generally suffice for the first discussion. If you still need additional time for important career interview questions you have not asked then see if you can organise another time.

  • Send a reminder - it is always good practice to send a reminder or re-check availability before the meeting. A gentle note stating your general aims for the meeting is sufficient as a reminder. This also gives the other person an opportunity to prepare in advance if necessary.

  • Visualize - pick a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and try and visualize the meeting in advance. Reflect on how you will conduct the meeting, what you will ask and things you will be looking out for. Visualization is a powerful technique and will help you to set things up in your mind before the meeting.

  • Start the meeting - before you get to the career interview question start the meeting by thanking them for their time and outlining the objectives of the meeting. It is always good to set some context to the discussion and perhaps give them some background about you, your career aspirations and how the meeting objectives fit into that. This way the other person has a better idea of why you are asking certain questions and may even be able to fill in some blanks on issues you may not have thought about.

  • Cover the topics - as your discussion progresses keep an eye on time and also on the topics. Take notes during the discussion and stay in control. It is after all your meeting so direct it the way you want it to proceed.

  • Be open to new discussions - it is good to cover all your career interview questions but also stay open and alert to new possibilities. This is a fine balance between sticking to your topics and allowing some room and freedom for the conversation to go down a certain path. You may make new discoveries during the conversation that may help open up new possibilities or considerations in your career development.

  • Ask for contacts - this is a very common lead generation tactic and one which you can also use. Everyone knows someone so ask the person if he or she would recommend someone else that you should talk to. If you do not know that person then ask for a referral or if you can use your host's name during the introduction. You may open up new doors this way.

  • Close and thank the person - finally, it goes without saying that you should try and close the meeting on time and also thank the person for their generosity. If a follow-up is necessary then do that in the specified time period. A nice touch would be to send them a thank you email or card after the meeting. If possible, be on the lookout on how you could return the favor to them one day in some way. This is a good way to maintain your contacts and build a network over time.

3. Integrate information into your career development plan

You will have a lot of answers to your career interview questions and additional information about yourself and your career by thetime you have concluded your career conversations.

Record them in a proper place such as your journal. Integrate action steps into your career development plan. That way, all of it stays in one document and makes it easier for you to follow up.

Why not subscribe to "Career Insider" to keep on top of useful career information that most large companies don't tell you about?

"Career Insider" is a FREE e-zine that provides you with great ideas on how to maximize your career potential.

E-mail Address
First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Career Insider.


<< Return to Career Research from Career Interview Question

Go to Career Development Home from Career Interview Question

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.


Subscribe to our complimentary
Career Insider
and get FREE goodies!  




Don't worry -- your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Career Insider.

"This site is FANTASTIC,
especially all the free tips!"



Performance Review eBook
at 50% discount
Plus 5 Free Bonuses

Hurry, Limited Time Only!

great performance review

“A first of its kind – written for the employee rather than the manager!”

“Simple and easy to implement.”

“Packed with real life tips that helped me get a great review.”

"I use it all the time - it has paid for itself many times over"



Improve Your Career and
Your Life for FREE!



Weekly Deals at FranklinCovey.com