Ask Career Development Questions to Help Find Career Success

The right career development questions help job applicants and employees signal to employers that they have an eye on advancement.

Do you know the right career development questions to ask?  To achieve your career goals, you need to stay in the driver’s seat. Part of taking a proactive approach to managing your professional development is knowing the right development questions to ask in a career conversation. That will net you better results than sitting back and waiting for opportunities to present themselves. 

You can improve your  career path by asking potential and current employers pointed questions about your growth potential. This showcases your drive and puts your prospective employer on notice that you’re thinking beyond your current position. 

Let’s take a look at questions that you can ask, along with tips that will help you achieve career success

Questions to ask when interviewing

Job candidates should have an answer ready when an interviewer asks about their background, expertise, leadership skills, and other skills. However, a well-prepared candidate will also have questions to ask that will allow them to learn about the growth potential in the job and their prospects for career advancement.

“Are there opportunities to move into management?” 

If managing direct reports is one of your goals, then the interview is a great time to bring that up. It lets the company know you are looking past the current job and are eager to make a positive contribution to the business.   

“What kind of professional development do you offer?” 

According to Lorman, 60% of millennials want leadership training, and 67% of Gen X leaders want more external coaching. Job candidates who are interested in learning new skills stand out from those who are happy with their job status quo. Asking this question lets employers know you are passionate about career growth. 

“Will I have the opportunity to cross-train?” 

The answer to this question will reveal whether company objectives include helping employees reach their potential. If the prospective employer answers yes, ask about the type of cross-training available. 

a well-prepared candidate will also have questions to ask that will allow them to learn about the growth potential in the job and their prospects for career advancement.

Questions to ask when on the job 

Once you are hired, don’t stop asking about opportunities for personal development or about company expectations. It might seem inappropriate for a team member to be asking about how to advance past the team. (You probably don’t want to start asking about it on your second day there. Take some time to master your new job and read the room.) But eventually, asking these questions will be an important risk that can open up valuable opportunities for training and promotion. The answers that employees receive can help them to gain insight into what their next career move should be.

“How am I doing?” 

You can gauge your success in your current position by asking this question. Hopefully, the manager will offer specific information, rather than vague answers like “good”, “OK”, or “all right.” Sometimes, you may be able to parlay this question into new training and development opportunities.  

“What could I be doing better?” 

Good leaders should be willing to offer constructive feedback to help employees’ goals get reached. Their answers can be important in identifying weak spots that may hold you back. 

“Can I take on or join a project to develop a certain skill?” 

Asking to launch or join a project displays passion for the company and a willingness to take on new responsibilities. Highlighting both of these qualities will serve you well when promotions are on the table. 

“How can I improve my chances of moving up?” 

This pointed question can reap specific guidance that may be essential for a move into a leadership position. The key is to expect some constructive criticism — and then, instead of being offended, use that criticism to improve your performance.  

Create a career development plan 

Even though it may seem time-consuming, you can plan your career growth path by setting goals that include specific actions and timelines. Combining your goals with the responses from your supervisor, you can update the plan to add professional development avenues that you’d like to pursue.  Here’s how you can do it, too: 

  • Identify your interests. What do you enjoy about your current job? Are there other positions in the company that you think you’d enjoy? 
  • Look at where you are now. Examine where you started and where you stand. Compare those places with where you would like to be. 
  • Set your goals. Next, work backward from where you would like to be. Add the professional growth that you’ll need to succeed. Make a list of the milestones that you’ll need to reach and build the timelines that will help you get there. 
  • Pinpoint your obstacles. What will get in your way? Lack of education? Difficult managers? Conflicts with coworkers? Consider how you’ll avoid these challenges and add those solutions to your plan. 
  • Document your plan. Finally, stop considering. Write down your entire plan, along with your action items and timelines. Review this document consistently and make any adjustments that will help you stay on track. 

Show your career development plan to your manager to demonstrate your ability to listen and respond to feedback, as well as your desire to move up within the organization. Your manager may end up becoming a career coach and help you meet your milestones. 

Neither job candidates nor current team members should be afraid to ask questions that will help them learn more about the opportunities available to them. Good leaders will be willing to answer those questions honestly; questions are a sign of high employee engagement and loyalty.  

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