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

Woman attending job interview

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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?”

This is a tough question, as it is so open-ended. Most employers look for employees who will be as self-sufficient as possible during their training period, and who will strive to make significant contributions early on. Therefore, try 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.

Emphasize Your Independence

Indicate 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.

For example, you might say something like:

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.

Also, 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.

You might say something like:

“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.”

Explain How You Will Add Value

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. 

For example, you might say:

"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."

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. For example, you might say:

“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.”

Discuss How You Stay Organized and Goal Oriented

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.

For example, you could say something like:

"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."

However you answer this question, you'll want to emphasize 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.