You're ready for a job or career change.

You've researched your industry, sought training, and developed new skills.

Now it's time to talk about your commitment to professional development and lifelong learning as you answer the interview question, "How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?"

L'il Nas X saying,

Know Why They Are Asking

Prospective employers want to see that you:

  • Follow industry trends and research.

  • Plan to build and enhance your skills, which would grow their organization's value.

  • Can lay out your growth plan. (Think SMART goals!)

  • Know what you don't know.

Focus your responses on your professional growth and development.

Question mark in neon lights on a wall in a dark industrial spacePhoto by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Showcase Your Growth

Combat the anxiety of this question by showcasing the professional development you've already demonstrated.

You've likely already:

  • Joined professional organizations in your field.

  • Read industry publications and listened to podcasts.

  • Identified trends, key skills, and achievements for the job you want.

  • Started gaining experience through training, certifications, and conversations with industry experts.

GIF of a checkmark to indicate completion

Quiz

Sabur explains during his interview that he joined a professional organization in his field. Which statements would show the interviewer that he's following through on the commitment?

He registered for it on the website.

He's collaborating with its members.

He paid for a full year membership.

He's prepping a conference proposal.

Map Out Your Answer

Show how your next year of improvement will continue what you've already started on your path to lifelong learning.

Your path to professional development should include:

  • Your destinations. Include the trends, skills, and training you've identified as important to that work.

  • Where you've been. Specify which of those you've already learned or completed.

  • Your path ahead. Finish with your action plan, resources, and timeline to continue your professional development.

Quiz

Lily's interview is going well when the director asks her to explain her plans for growth and improvement. Select all the responses that would fit in this scenario.

I'm considering the XYZ certification.

I'm completing ABC courses by June.

Here are my improved workout stats.

I recently got to my weight goal!

Practice Your Response

young woman speaking to a laptop during a video interviewPhoto by Beci Harmony on Unsplash

Get comfortable talking about your impressive development!

Write out bullet points or keywords to talk about your growth to this point. Include your goals for continued professional development.

With keywords or bullet points, you'll be less stressed about memorizing a script and sound far more authentic in your responses.

Include specific details on skills, training, or programs you've completed and those you plan to complete.

Develop a timeline and state your targeted completion date for each step.

Rehearse on video, with a friend, or on your own.

Put It All Together

Here's an example of how you might respond during the interview:

Six months ago I began researching the __________ industry.

That led me to talk to professionals to learn about their day-to-day responsibilities and skills they find most valuable.

Then I began learning how to ________, and I joined the________ organization.

I am now proficient in ________and________. Next I want to learn more about __________.

In June I will earn my ________certification, and by December I hope to complete my________.

A proud TV character proclaiming,

Take Action

Commit to lifelong learning and professional development throughout your career.

Even after you land that job, build on your momentum and work toward your next position.

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This Byte has been authored by

TK

Tammi Kohl Kennedy

Instructional Designer and eLearning Developer