In an ever-changing economy- businesses must continue to adapt to stay profitable. Therefore- when hiring- the most attractive candidates tend to be those who are proactive with respect to their professional development. Common variations of the question ‘what sorts of things have you done to become better qualified for your career?’ include “what do you do to keep your knowledge current?” and “how do you keep up with the latest industry trends?”
This is one of the more common interview questions- but it shouldn’t be a difficult one to answer. It does- however- require an honest- well-thought-out answer. Focus is key- especially if you are competitive or love to learn. Be sure to convey to the hiring board that you aren’t stagnant or complacent with your skillset. Even if you have an advanced degree- it’s important to show you are always ready to learn something new and use facts to back up your claim.
How to Answer the ‘What Sorts of Things Have You Done to Become Better Qualified for Your Career?’ Question
Make a Continuing Education “Top Three” for Every Interview: Make a list of courses you have completed in recent years. Under each course- add a few bullet points to remind yourself of how you benefited. A day or two before the interview- look through your notes and select three that you can share with the hiring manager should this or similar interview questions come up. When the spotlight is on you- mention a course- potentially introducing it by asking the interviewer if he or she is familiar with it. Then mention a key takeaway or two. Paint yourself as someone who loves to learn. Mention how a course expanded your horizons or how interesting it was to hear about current developments in your field or a related one.
Focus on Initiative: Mentioning company-sponsored or required training courses you’ve completed in past jobs won’t impress a hiring manager. Instead- cite examples of when you’ve gone out of your way to build on existing skills or learn new ones. If you joined a user group or industry organization’s local chapter and attended events outside of work hours- mention it. If you volunteered to use your skills to benefit others and went a little out of your comfort zone to do so- that’s also a worthy share. Finally- if you took it upon yourself to bring professional mentors into your life- mention how often you meet with them and what you discuss. You might consider commenting on upcoming educational opportunities that you’re either registered for or wish to participate in. This shows that whether you get the job or not- you’re going to be involved and engaged in learning.
All Types of Education Counts: Hiring managers aren’t so much concerned about how much money you shelled out to improve your qualifications. Mention any MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that you’ve completed- even if you didn’t pay for a certificate. If you read a book that relates to the position you’re trying for- mention a point or two that you found interesting or that you’d like to see in action. If you’re a faithful listener of a really great podcast- share that too- because who knows – you may be in company with another loyal subscriber.
Sample ‘What Sorts of Things Have You Done to Become Better Qualified for Your Career?’ Interview Answers
1. I get a sense that you value continuing education- and I think that’s great. Starting the year I finished college- I’ve been attending an annual industry workshop. This was my first real exposure to real-world aspects of the theory that I worked so hard to learn. After I graduated and finished an internship- I enrolled in a week-long class to learn more technical skills that I could see were in demand. While in-between jobs- I completed two MOOCs- which expanded my views further. I’m currently halfway through finishing a business book that a senior mentor recommended- and I’m really enjoying it.
2. As you know- continuing education is a requirement to maintain licensure in our industry. For this reason- I take it upon myself to continually go above and beyond the minimum. Every year- I’ve taken different elective courses to expose myself to other market niches. After taking one course- I was able to convince my previous manager to let me take a few tasks regularly to put my new knowledge to use. After a few months our business grew- and I helped on-board a new colleague- training him as a backup for my new specialty. I’m currently waiting for confirmation on a pro bono opportunity where I can help those in need with some additional skills I learned this year.
Now you’re prepared to take control of one of the most common interview questions: “what sorts of things have you done to become better qualified for your career?” Get ready to steal the show with your well-prepared answers!