How to Ask About Growth Opportunities During an Interview
More than 30 years ago, Dr. Carol Dweck made a breakthrough in understanding our mental capacity for growth. She coined the term ‘Growth Mindset’: “an understanding that abilities and intelligence can be developed.”
Since then, neuroscientists, educators, and therapists have applied this concept to a variety of contexts. Instead of focusing on the difficulties and struggles a new challenge can bring, growth mindset encourages us to look at opportunities that will challenge us.
If you’re stuck in a job with no room for growth, it may be a good time to try something new. And if you’re already looking for a job, putting “Opportunities for Growth” at the forefront of your search can help you advance professionally and ignite your passion and curiosity for your work.
Finding a job with room to grow in meaningful ways will make you happier in the long run. Here are four actionable interview game plans to identify if a company has what you’re looking for:
Discover new skills
If you’re most interested in expanding your technical skill set or experience portfolio, look for positions that provide opportunities for technical mentorship in skills you’d like to develop.
Questions to ask during an interview to determine if the position or company would provide this environment:
- What formal or informal mentorship opportunities are provided at the company?
- What opportunities and routes for career development and skill development are provided at the company?
- If I am interested in practicing a newly acquired skill, are there areas where I could shadow someone more experienced and learn more about that type of work?
- Does your company provide tuition reimbursement or opportunities to take classes and credits outside of work?
Climb the ladder
If you’re most interested in setting yourself up for long-term growth at a company, look at companies that have a variety of senior roles that you’re interested in.
Questions to ask during an interview to gauge the career growth potential at the company:
- What routes for career growth does your company offer?
- How defined are the qualifications for promotion opportunities?
- Could you provide an example of a senior role and what qualities and skills would be required for that role?
- How often do senior roles become available for consideration?
Experience a new industry
If you’re most interested in trying something new and different, whether it’s a new industry or a different type of position (ex. management), look for companies or positions to which your background could provide a unique perspective.
When switching industries, it’s important to connect with people who work in your target industry to provide you with more insight into day-to-day activities. They can also help you recognize industry needs you can reference in a persuasive cover letter that highlights what you and your unique background would provide to this new industry or new position.
Questions to ask during informational interviews to gauge opportunities and insight into the day to day activities at a company:
- In your industry and at your current company, what are some improvements that you would like to see?
- What are common day-to-day activities for different roles at your company?
- What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced at work?
- What are some of the greatest successes you have accomplished at work?
- Do you have recommendations for other companies or connections I could talk with further?
If you’re most interested in pursuing a career that provides more time for personal development outside of work, look into positions and companies that emphasize a work/life balance. Work/life balance can come in many forms. Ask yourself: would you like and be productive working from home? Do you want to come to the office at flexible times? Do you want to bring your dog to work?
Questions to ask during an interview to determine if the company would provide the type of environment you are looking for:
- What is the work/life balance model at your company?
- Is it possible to work remotely throughout the week?
- Could you describe the office environment?
- Are flexible hours or part-time work considered at the company?
The search for a job that allows you to grow is not an easy one. Be prepared to reject opportunities and, in turn, be rejected by opportunities. If you constantly feel comfortable and at ease in a job search, you are not learning new skills and not growing into a better-prepared version of yourself. Stretching your comfort zone in every way during the job search only helps you become a stronger candidate.
And once you find a job that’s a good fit, check out our tips for setting yourself up for success in the first month.