Interview Questions: Your Professional Development

The challenges and expectations in your career will continually change. You must learn and grow to succeed. Interviewers often will question how you approach your career and what you have done to continue learning.

Some of the interview questions about your professional development include:

  • What continuing education classes have you completed recently?

  • What new skills have you gained in the last 3 years?

  • How do you stay current on developments in your industry?

Professional development can come for a variety of sources. Many people stay current through magazines, blogs and books. Others receive excellent continuing education at work. Some individuals take training classes, college courses or pursue industry certifications. All of these activities are good to discuss.

Your answers to professional development interview questions need to be specific. I’ve had candidates give answers like “I keep up on my industry by reading a few trade magazines.” This does not tell the interviewer anything. You could add some detail, for example, discussing specific periodicals and books you have read, but this is still a weak answer.

A better answer would include specific knowledge or skills that were gained. You could discuss a new technology, a tool or a process you learned. Your answer should have a clear, direct benefit to the job you are seeking. You want the interviewer to see that you are committed to your professional growth and are adding skills that will benefit them. Very broad learning unrelated to your field may help you in the long run, but probably will not make a strong memorable impression on the interviewer.

The best answer to a professional development interview question will discuss what you learned, how you learned it, and how you have applied what you learned to deliver results. This last piece makes a huge difference. It’s one thing to say you learned something. It’s another to say your learned something and applied successfully.

Look at the projects you have completed in the last couple years. Which projects required you to apply skills or knowledge that you didn’t possess before the project?

An example of an answer to a professional development interview question is:

“I am committed to continuing to learn in my field. I read several periodicals, and I try to take training courses in my field on a regular basis. Most recently, I attended a seminar on inventory management. I learned a new cycle counting approach that I applied this past year. By implementing new cycle counting procedures, we reduced our inventory levels by 20% and improved our inventory accuracy. All of this was achieved while we reduced our cycle counting hours by 15%”

This example shows a commitment to professional development, and most importantly, a commitment to the continuous improvement of the organization from the lessons learned. The results are likely to be valuable to an employer, making the candidate also valuable.

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