Interview Questions About the First 30 Days in a New Job
During a job interview, hiring managers often ask questions meant to provide insight into how you will adjust to a new job if hired. One of those questions is “What do you see yourself doing in the first 30 days?”
Employers place the highest value on candidates who will be assertive about learning the job, blend in with the team, and become productive as soon as possible. Expect to answer interview questions about how you’ll adjust and what you’ll do during your first few weeks on the job.
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
When you’re asked about what you’d accomplish during your first 30 days on the job, the interviewer wants to know how you would transition to the new organization.
It can be a tricky question, because the employer’s ideal scenario may not match your expectations of onboarding.
How to Answer the Question
Before you respond, consider what the employer is looking for? Do they want someone to come on board to immediately work on transforming the company, department, or role? Or, will the new employee fit into the current organizational structure without many expected changes?
You don’t want to say you’ll change everything if the new hire isn’t expected to be involved in changing processes and procedures. On the other hand, if this is a role where the new employee is expected to take charge and enact change, you need to be prepared to explain what you would plan to accomplish when you start the job.
Examples of the Best Answers
An appropriate answer to this question will vary based on your position and experience level. For a manager-level position, an answer should likely include some sort of plan, where an entry-level interviewee can mention the need to gain experience and learn from colleagues.
Good responses to this type of question might include some of the following:
- I'll spend the first month learning as much as possible and getting to know the team I'll be working with.
- I'll work on cultivating positive relationships with co-workers.
- I plan to come in early and stay late in order to expedite my learning.
- I will ask my manager for suggestions of key employees to engage with.
- I'll ask lots of questions about goals and methods.
- I won't share my opinion until I understand what is being done and why it is being done that way.
- I will spend time learning from as many different staff members as possible to avoid being a burden to any one individual.
- I'll introduce myself to key partners in other departments and learn their expectations for someone in my role.
- I will focus my interactions on staff who are positive about the company and work environment.
- I will treat all staff with respect. I have found in the past that support staff, as well as management, have been very helpful as I adjusted to new positions.
Tips for Giving the Best Answers
Be specific. Relating examples of how you adjusted quickly and effectively when starting a new job in the past can be an effective way to prove your track record of onboarding into a new company. Be as specific as possible when crafting your story—what challenges did you face when starting your job, and how did you demonstrate your ability to get up to speed quickly?
Be positive. Resist the urge to say anything negative about a current or former employer or boss. Maybe one of the challenges you faced involved dealing with disorganized people or systems, but if you state that too baldly, you might look like you’re complaining. A potential employer could become concerned that you’d say similarly negative things about this organization. Instead, focus on the opportunity.
You might say something like:
My last company was growing so quickly when I joined, many departmental structures were changing—and fast! It was a great opportunity to arrange things in a way that helped support growth. I enjoyed being part of the team that worked on that project.
Demonstrate your knowledge. Use this question as an opportunity to show the research you've done on the company and the specific role. The answer for a position at a start-up company with a flat organizational structure may be very different than the response for a company governed by a top-down management. It's also appropriate to mention specific tasks or projects you'd like to accomplish and perhaps discuss how you implemented similar projects at a prior position and what the result was.
Show initiative. You can say, "I'd like to evaluate and potentially restructure the process for launching new products" or "I'd like to cut the time spent on busy-work projects. I'll schedule one-on-one meetings with everyone on my team, asking for feedback on which tasks they find unnecessary."
Particularly for higher-level candidates, this type of answer will showcase your leadership and initiative and let interviewers know that you're eager to seize the opportunity.
What Not to Say
Avoid criticizing the organization. You should avoid seeming critical of the company you’re hoping to join. This can be challenging if the interviewer has been frank with you about the problems they’re hoping you’ll help solve.
But again, looking for the opportunity can help spin this in a positive direction:
I understand that you’re hoping to grow the sales team by X percent. In my previous job, I added Y sellers and we achieved Z percent growth in the first quarter. I really enjoyed the challenge and I’d love to do the same for your company.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- What can you do better for us than the other applicants?
- Describe a difficult work situation and how you handled it.
- What do you expect to accomplish here?
Research the Role Learn about the role and the employer’s expectations so you can frame an appropriate response.
Share Examples Be prepared with examples of how you started a new role, and what you accomplished at the beginning of your tenure with the company.
Keep it Positive Keep your answer positive and don’t criticize the company or previous employers.