If you get hit with this question, don’t freak out! It’s one of the classic interview questions that will be asked, and the good news is that there is no right answer.
The WRONG answer would be to say, "I plan on staying the way I am this year, with no plans for improvement whatsoever." That is the quickest way to get yourself shown out the door with no hope of getting a job!
But answering this question the right way is a lot easier than you think…
How to Answer
When the interviewer poses this question, they’re not looking for an in-depth explanation of all of your weaknesses and shortcomings, what you see as potential problems, and how you plan to rectify them. You don’t need to give a lot of detail in this answer--all you need to do is show that you plan on making improvements in your personal and professional life in the coming year.
- Focus on big picture answers -- You don’t need to talk about how you’re going to overcome your need for independence in order to avoid pissing off your boss; instead, talk about how you are going to work on becoming a better team player. Keep your answers focused on the big picture of self-improvement.
- Admit mistakes -- If you’ve already answered the question "What is your biggest weakness?” it’s time to give a quick explanation of how you plan to combat that weakness. Training, seminars, courses, and books are all valid answers.
- Tie your answer to the position -- If you’re applying for a position at a marketing firm, why would you talk about your fitness goals? Make sure your response is tied to the job you will be undertaking: "I will be taking X seminars/courses to improve my skills/stay up to date with the latest trends."
- Break it down -- Tell the interviewer more than just what you plan to do, but let them know HOW you plan to achieve your goals. Talk about specific courses you have scheduled to attend, what books you are working through, etc. Specifics always help to show that you can actually achieve things, not just talk about them!
- Finish with a positive note -- You’re talking about how you want to improve yourself, so finish strong by saying something to the effect of "By the time I’m done with all these things, I will be the professional I know I have the potential to be".
Before you go to your interview, sit and think about how you will answer this question. The truth is that you will have to do a bit of planning for the coming year, but that’s a good thing. Preparing for this question will force you to examine yourself and find the areas where you need to improve, and will help you take steps to make those improvements. By the time you show up at the interview, you will be well on your way to becoming the best professional possible!