This is another of those interview questions that doesn’t seek a detailed explanation. The interviewer is more interest in how you think than what you think.
Obviously, you don’t know enough about the job or the company’s current projects to do anything but guess at a real 60-day plan.
And realistically, they surely have a plan for the position that’s not likely to change based on what you imagine at this point.
No, you should not answer this question with any specific action you will take pertaining to the job role.
Nor should you describe how you will acclimate yourself within the company, or how you will take action to become more comfortable in your new job.
The interview is not about you; it is about how you can best serve the company’s interests, and the hiring manager’s interests. Therefore, the very first thing to avoid is an individualistic approach and instead give it an approach that is considered more corporate-sensitive.
You will answer this question the way the interviewer wants it answered. You will appeal to the hiring manager’s needs and address his or her requirements.
They will specifically need to assess whether you have enough passion to serve the company diligently within the first few days of taking the job.
Don’t Say This
As long as you don’t blow this question, you’ll still be in the running for the job. This is not a question that you must absolutely nail to get selected; you just can’t completely botch it. Thus, here’s how you can mess up:
- Don’t rattle off the same typical answer anyone would give as if you just want to move past this vague question. Give the interviewer the respect to answer thoughtfully. She or he asked it for a reason.
- Don’t be too specific. Your odds of guessing correctly about changes you want to make or tasks you’d want to perform are slim and you won’t sound open to direction when you guess wrong.
- Don’t make this personal. This is not about your personal plan to overcome and conquer the obstacles to your success. It is about being part of a team, and following directions, yet having the initiative and motivation to not require micro-management.
- Don’t forget to prepare. The answer you do provide will require that you know as much as possible about the company and hiring manager. Do your homework and practice your response to this very common question.
What to Say
Approach this question by thinking about what the interviewer is trying to learn about you. Primarily, he wants to know whether you understand what the job entails. Your answer should discuss, in general terms, how a person with the posted job description would begin to perform in order to meet his manager’s expectations.
For example, your first objective could, perhaps, be to meet with your manager to clarify exactly what his or her expectations are for the position.
While you are undoubtedly qualified for the position, or else the company would not be interviewing you, the hiring manager also wants to be assured that you will perform as expected. So, your response should exhibit a focus on performance.
Perhaps, your plan is to quickly complete all necessary training or certifications so there is no undue delay until you can perform.
Or, you might plan to immediately configure your work station, or buy/requisition any tools you will need. Make it clear that you are already thinking about what you will need to hit the ground running.
The interviewer also wants to see that you know how to manage time effectively. You can demonstrate that in your 60-day plan by taking responsibility for your progress. Every step of your plan should be framed as “I will do…” rather than as “Once someone does this, I can….” You are proactive and will push others to ensure your milestones are met on schedule. The interviewer knows the reality is that progress will not always be up to you; but, by demonstrating a mindset that doesn’t contemplate delay lightly, you are telling the interviewer that she or he doesn’t have to worry about you performing at a slower pace.
- It can be effective to describe how the action plan you had as a new employee in a prior position enabled your early success.
- Incorporate flexibility into your plan to demonstrate that you understand that your plan will need to be tweaked once you understand the actual job requirements and your manager’s expectations.
- Organize your plan around primary goals and activities, for example, training, client introductions, account/project reviews, etc.
- Include comments that demonstrate your existing knowledge of the company so that the manager understands that you’ve already prepared – i.e. your 60-day plan has already started.
- Describe how you will seek out co-worker’s advice and guidance early, and work to build strong relationships. Reassure the interviewer that you will not be a disruptive force, that you will fit into the team easily and work to make everyone better.
- If possible, include information or address concerns expressed by the interview earlier in your conversation. This requires that you listen intently and, perhaps, take notes, and then, ad lib your answer, but the result can be very effective, especially if you don’t make it obvious, like it was already part of your plan.
Finally, you need to display confidence and determination that your plan will work. Pause for a moment before answering to gather your thoughts so that you appear to be thoughtful and respectful of the question’s importance to the interviewer. Most importantly, again, be prepared. Even if the interviewer doesn’t ask this question, you may very well be able to work it into your answer to one of his other questions, or to express it as a question when you’re allowed to ask questions at the end of the interview (i.e., “I’ve been thinking about what it would take to be successful in this position and came up with a preliminary plan. Tell me what you think of this…”).
By demonstrating that this job is important to you, that you were willing to put in the time planning to be successful, you show the hiring manager that you understand the job, that you’re capable of doing the job, and that you will execute a plan of action that ensures you will be successful.