Tough Interview Question - What would you look to accomplish in your first 90 days on the job?

What would you look to accomplish in your first 90 days on the job?

Similar interview questions:
What would be your initial goals you would like to accomplish in this role?
Where would you be looking to first make an impact if you get this job?
Tell me about what you did during the first 30 days of your last job.
How do you decide what is most important to focus on in your new role?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
This is both a test of your basic understanding of the needs of the role as well as a behavioral reference point to what you did in prior roles. The interviewer wants to know what you deem as the most urgent needs for the role and where you feel you can have an initial impact.

The best approach to answering this question:
You need to know the primary needs of the role to answer this question. Specifically, you need to understand the most urgent needs for the role. If you do not, your options are: 1) answer behaviorally with what you did in your last role and use that as a launching point for asking about the needs of this role; 2) defer on the specific needs based on initial meetings with managers and coworkers.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"In my current job, I spent the first 90 days tackling the most urgent needs that had been previously shelved while the role was vacant. My first day on the job was meeting with my manager to assess both the urgency and importance of the open items that needed to be accomplished. I wanted to have an immediate impact in the role and was able to do so. I understand that this role has an urgent need to focus initially on ______, is that correct?"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"In my recent internship, my first day involved meeting with my mentor and my manager and setting delivery goals for my internship. Since the internship was only 90 days, I had a clear view of what needed to be accomplished. I would want to do the same thing with this role so that I can get off to a fast start in delivering the most urgent and important needs for the team…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Well, the first week is typically not very productive with filling out paperwork and getting my computer set up. I like to get all of my music loaded on my computer, so that I don’t have to play songs from my phone. Then I typically start hanging around the water cooler to listen to others, to find out what is really happening behind the scenes. I usually try to make friends with a couple people at work so that I can find out the history of what works and what doesn’t. I know some people try to avoid the negative attitude people, but I think they often have the most information about the company and how to work the system, how to pull the levers to get things done. And they usually can tell me which people to avoid and work around. It’s all about understanding the system and how to work with it and, when necessary, work around it…"

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these Common Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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