Interview Question: 'What Do You Hope to Accomplish Here?'

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In order to figure out how you might approach a new job, interviewers often ask you a question like, "What can we expect from you in the first 60 days on the job?" or "What would you hope to accomplish in your first few weeks here?" 

That's not a small query, and can be a tough question to answer, as it's so open-ended. 

What the Interviewer Wants to Know

Interviewers are generally looking to see if you can be self-sufficient during your training period, and make significant contributions early on in your time on the job.

By asking this question, interviewers can get a chance of your work style, as well as a sense of if you've actively envisioned yourself in the role and have a sense of what it takes to be successful in it.

Remember, just because it's an open-ended question doesn't mean that any response goes. 

How to Answer 'What Do You Hope to Accomplish in Your First Weeks?'

Your best bet is to focus on specific things you will do to contribute to the company right away. Highlight the fact that you will require minimal training or assistance from your boss. Three things to emphasize in your response are: 

1. Your Independence: You'll want to show that you'll take an active approach to learning your role without burdening your supervisor, and point out that you'll make it a priority to be productive within your first few days on the job. Keep in mind that frequent interruptions by new staff can be frustrating for managers. Therefore, in your answer, you should emphasize your plan for asking important questions without bothering your boss. 

2. Your Organizational Skills: Employers love goal-oriented and well-organized employees. That's why it's a good idea to share some insight into your process for working through challenges, like learning a new role.

3. Your Value to the Organization:This type of question also provides an opening for you to affirm your ability to add value in key areas of the work early in your tenure. Based on the job description, along with anything the interviewer has said about the position's main responsibilities, make a case for how your skill set will equip you to learn your duties quickly. You can also assert that you'll take direction from your supervisor and focus your energies on mastering your work during the first several weeks, so you can maximize your value as soon as possible. 

However you answer this question, you'll want to demonstrate that you understand the main duties of the job, you know how to set and achieve goals, and that you are independent enough to complete tasks without burdening your boss.

Examples of the Best Answers

Take a look at some potential responses if you're asked what you hope to accomplish: 

I'll reach out to all the colleagues in my department and intersecting departments to learn as much as possible about the roles that everyone plays within the operation. I will devour all the information you've provided on policies and procedures, and during the evening, I'll continue reading everything I can find about the company and industry to get an accurate fix on the state of the firm within the marketplace. Our professional association offers some online tutorials as well, so I will work on those during my off hours.

Why It Works: This response shows that the candidate is incredibly independent and won't need a lot of hand-holding during the early days on the job. It also shows they're a hard worker, and willing to spend time after work hours learning more. 

I know you mentioned you would want to teach me the company's internal database system. Like I did during my first week at my previous job, I plan to spend my first few days and evenings learning the database so that I can begin using it fluently as quickly as possible.

Why It Works: This response is strong because it offers an example of how the candidate has previously made on-boarded to the job in an efficient manner. 

You have emphasized the importance of writing compelling press releases, and, based on my experience in the governor's office, I should be able to jump in and take on that responsibility quickly.

Why It Works: This response demonstrates that the candidate understands what tasks they will need to perform in the role, and shows that the candidate is ready to take them on without additional training. 

Over the course of the first week, I will compile a list of questions that can't be answered through printed resources or conversations with colleagues...and address them with my supervisor when we meet.

Why It Works: This response shows that the candidate anticipates having questions but has a smart, organized strategy for getting responses. 

I am a list person, so I like to write down objectives for learning to stay on track. For example, you mentioned how important the online purchasing system is to this job, so I would include the goal of mastering that system during the first two weeks at the top of my list.

Why It Works: Again, this response shows how the candidate is incredibly organized, as well as being goal-oriented. 

Tips for Giving the Best Answer

In your response, you'll want to: 

  • Show that you're an active learner and won't require too much hand-holding 
  • Share your strategy for getting questions answered
  • Demonstrate how you'll be able to quickly add value 
  • Show that you understand what's involved in the role 

What Not to Say 

  • Avoid responding by saying that you'll ask tons of questions — this could make a manager feel nervous that you'll eat up a ton of their time 
  • You also won't want to say that you'll be slow to ramp up
  • Don't be unrealistic about what you hope to achieve — if you say, for instance, that you'll totally reorganize the workflow it can be off-putting

Possible Follow Up Questions

  • Tell me about how you handled the first month in a previous role. 
  • What would you do if you had a question, and I wasn't available to help? 

Key Takeaways

Emphasize Independence: Employees are looking for self-starters who pick up processes quickly and don't require excessive training. 

Show You Know When to Ask: Still, it's also important to demonstrate that you know when to reach out for help or more information. 

Provide Examples: The strongest answers will show how you'll work, whether by explaining your workflow or providing examples from the past.