How to Assess Professional Growth Opportunities During a Job Interview

Published: Mar 20, 2024

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Job seekers want to know that a potential employer will invest in their professional development, or that it promotes from within. You can get a good idea of how a company handles promotions or what types of employee advancement programs it offers by conducting a little research, but there’s something to be said about the personal approach. If you want to get the straight truth about growth opportunities from potential employers, try asking these questions during an interview.

Skill Development

Whether you’re an entry-level job seeker or a hardened veteran, developing and maintaining your professional skills is incredibly important. You can get a good idea of how a potential employer might promote skill development for its employees by taking a look at its website or job listings, but you have to use discernment. Do the company’s claims about skill development programs seem legitimate, or do they come off as a thinly veiled attempt to quickly attract talent?

A great way to determine whether a potential employer is serious about their skill development programs, or whether they offer such programs at all, is to ask questions relating to skill development during a job interview. Pay close attention to the interviewer, as their body language and tone of voice will often reveal clues that can help you determine the validity of their response. Here are some sample questions about skill development for you to work off of:

  • “Does [Company Name] offer any mentorship opportunities?”
  • “What kinds of career and skill development programs does [Company Name] offer?”
  • “Does [Company Name] offer any tuition reimbursement programs?”

Climbing the Ladder

No successful career would be complete without a few promotions along the way. You’ll know it’s time to seek a promotion when you feel that you’ve outgrown your work, or when your day-to-day feels less rewarding than it once was. This is all very common, and will happen naturally as you progress in your career.

Many companies will talk about how they promote from within, whether it’s in their job descriptions or on their website. Of course, all of this seems wonderful on paper, but any company can just go and say they promote from within, without actually sticking to their promise. You could check out some employee reviews or ask a network connection to confirm whether a company’s claims are true, or you might decide to ask during a job interview to see for yourself. To help you get started, here are some sample questions:

  • “Does [Company Name] promote from within?”
  • “How often do senior roles become available?”
  • “What paths to career growth does [Company Name] offer?”

Personal Growth

We talk a lot about professional development, promotions, how to handle various workplace issues, and many other aspects of your career, but the importance of your personal growth as it relates to career success cannot be understated. As time goes on, your priorities will constantly shift, your perspective on any number of topics will change, and you may discover new hobbies and passions. The point is, as you grow in your personal life, you’ll find new ways to think about and engage with your career.

Yes friends, a good work/life balance is incredibly important. You might be able to get a good idea about a company’s approach to work/life balance by checking out its website, job descriptions, and employee reviews, but the best way to determine whether a company really cares about your time is to ask them directly. To help get you started, check out these example questions about work/life balance:

  • “Does [Company Name] offer flexible hours or part-time work?”
  • “What is [Company Name]’s work/life balance model?”
  • “Are there opportunities for remote or hybrid schedules?”

Changing Careers

Choosing a career path can sometimes be difficult. While some people figure out their passion and jump right into their career after college, others might take a bit longer to determine where they fit in the professional world. It’s important to remember that if you fall under the latter category, it doesn’t mean you’re “behind” or that you don’t have useful skills. Everyone has a different journey, and we all have our own unique skills and perspectives that are valuable and that can be applied to a career.

If you’re looking to change your role or even the industry in which you work, you may be able to leverage transferable skills you’ve learned to help you in your job search. You may also conduct research into the industry or role you’re interested in, but networking is the best way to get solid information about a career change. By connecting with individuals who have experience with the industry or role you’re interested in, you may be able to set up informational interviews where you can ask any questions you might have. Here are some sample questions to get you started:

  • “What does your day-to-day look like?”
  • “What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your career?”
  • “Which soft skills are most important for your role?”

It’s worth noting that questions like these should be saved for the portion of the interview where the interviewer will inevitably ask “do you have any questions for me?” Remember, there’s no shame in asking any questions you might have, and if you go into an interview with a written list of questions to help you, there’s no shame in that either. During an interview, it’s your job to learn as much as you can about a company so that you can make an informed decision about your next career move.