Endless pursuit of perfection, or at least a constant effort to improve on your skills. Most employer expect nothing less from the best job candidates. Can you convince them of having this attitude? And what areas should you talk about? It is better focusing on your strengths, or on your weaknesses? We will try to answer the questions on the following lines.
Let’s start with 7 sample answers to the question. I include a variety of answers in my selection, and hope you will find at least one that resonates with you, and fits your situation in the interviews (in terms of your experience, skills, and attitude you want to show). Do not forget to read also the passages below the answers, where I explain some common mistakes people make when answering this one, and how you can avoid making the same mistakes. Enjoy!
7 sample answers to “In what areas do you believe you have most potential to grow professionally?” interview question
- I honestly believe that I can improve on everything. Fresh from college, I have strong motivation to learn, and to become the best manager I can be. But I also have a realistic idea of my skills and abilities. I definitely can improve on my communication skills, I can grow as a leader, and most importantly, I have to learn how to deal better with all kinds of situations that can happen in the workplace, such as having a conflict with a colleague, facing an ethical dilemma, or falling behind with the schedule. But I believe one cannot learn these things at school. I am looking forward to experiencing them in a real workplace, and grow professionally as a manager and leader.
- I think the one area I have most potential to grow in are my time management skills, my organization of the working day. This is something I’ve been struggled with a lot in my present job. At the same time, however, I believe it is a skill one can learn, not a skill you have to be born with. I hope to learn from my new colleagues how to organize my day effectively, but I also want to introduce daily to-do lists to my working routine. No doubt I will find it hard at the start, but if I persist and really work according to the plan, I have no doubt I will improve my time management skills.
- I would pick stress management, and conflict resolution. I am a perfectionist, and it actually causes me more harm than good. Because I always try to over-deliver, exceed the expectations of both my colleagues and customers, going above and beyond. And why it isn’t a bad attitude to have, it also adds a lot of stress to your life. And when you are stressed, you don’t deal with conflicts the way you should deal with them… As you can see, both areas are interrelated. I have to learn to not expect so much from myself, to accept my imperfections, and the fact that I can also have a low day at work, and struggle with motivation. A new job, and a new collective of people, definitely presents such an opportunity.
- I believe that I have most potential to grow professionally when it comes to accepting feedback of my subordinates. Sometimes I am too stubborn, I follow my way of doing things, think that my perspective is the correct one. But I know it isn’t the way to grow professionally, and it also isn’t the way to deliver the best possible results in work. Life has taught me the lesson several times, and yet still I haven’t learned from it. Anyway, I am aware of this weakness, and a new job can be an opportunity to finally get rid of it.
- I would pick dealing with ambiguity, and facing the unknown. You see, when things go as planned, I am an excellent employee and manager. I take care of the workload, deliver the results, or even over-deliver. But when I get out of my comfort zone, and have to deal with some unexpected situation, I often start to panic. I do not know if it has something to do with my childhood, or with anything else. But I’ve recently started to work with a psychologist, and believe that I can eventually grow in this area, because I understand that we cannot avoid change and unpredictability in the current economic climate.
- That’s an easy choice–my communication skills. Just like the vast majority of people born in the late 90ties, I spent most of my teenage years glued to the screen of my smartphone. Sure enough, I can type a message in a flash, with ten emojis, but when it comes to real interactions with people, I stutter. I struggle keeping eye contact, I often cannot find the right words… And maybe I haven’t found the right words even in this interview. You see, there’s a long road ahead of me, but I am confident that once I am “forced to” have such interactions in the workplace, I will eventually get better. It just needs practice, something I haven’t had much during my studies.
- More than anything else, I still think that I can grow professionally as a cook. Sure, I’ve been a sous chef in two restaurants, both specializing in a different cuisine. But I still feel there’s a lot to learn, from more experienced chefs, but also from simply trying to prepare new dishes, getting feedback from the guests, and so on. I definitely cannot afford to become complacent with what I already achieved and know as a cook. That would be a beginning of an end really…
Show confidence that you will improve
Each of us has some weaknesses, and every day in work is an opportunity to improve on them. At least that’s the attitude the hiring managers want to hear from the very best job candidates.
Sure enough, you may struggle with this or that. Perhaps you’ve been struggling with it for years, and it is obvious to the interviewers from the way you talk and interact in the interviews. But you should not give up. You can always say that you see a new job as an opportunity to grow professionally in this or that area, to learn from your new colleagues, and so on. Simply try to stay positive about your chances to improve on an area you’ve struggled with.
Elaborate on your answer, explaining what you want to do to grow professionally
It is one thing saying that you can improve on your time management skills, and another one explaining what you are actually doing (or want to do in your new job) to really grow in this area.
Once you identify the areas for improvement, try to think about an action plan–how you can improve on this or that, what you can do to finally get rid of the weakness.
Sure, if you’ve been battling with something for years, there’s no guarantee you will overcome it in your new job. But the chances are definitely better when you have some plan. With time management it can be introducing daily to-do lists to your schedule, avoiding distractions (such as phone calls, notification, etc), or doing anything else that will help you stay on task, and organized in the office.
If you cannot come up with anything better, pick your profession
My last answer is a good example of this attitude. You can always want to become a better cook, engineer, manager, bank teller, waitress, teacher, nurse. And that’s actually the attitude you should show in an interview–not being complacent with the status quo, always striving to improve.
Generally this isn’t the best possible answer, but you can make it better with breaking your profession down to partial tasks or abilities. Let me show you an example.
Imagine that you apply for a teaching job. You will start your answer saying that you want to become a better teacher overall. Then you will elaborate on it, saying that you can improve on your teaching methods (making them more engaging, trying new concepts), on making better connection with the students (something you’ve struggled with in your last job), and perhaps also improve your time management skills in the classes (it happens to you often that you do not manage to cover the entire lesson in the forty-five minute time period). Such answer is much better than simply saying that you want to become a better teacher…
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- Do you want to tell us anything else about you?
- What do you expect from your manager or supervisor?
- What are your 3 key strengths and 3 areas of improvement?