Frequently Asked Interview Questions What Will You Do In Your First 30-60-90 Days?

By Joe Stein

Very often, especially for management type positions, an Interviewer will ask the candidate to outline his or her plans for the first thirty, sixty, and ninety days in the role.  I know when I was first asked this question (many years ago), my initial thought was “shouldn’t the employer be telling me their plans for my start?” Since then, the question has become much more common and understood, and really serves a purpose for the Hiring Manager.

By asking this question, the Interviewer wants to be sure that you are ready to make a fairly immediate impact in the organization and are fully prepared to hit the ground running in the position.  Gone are the days (of years ago) where a person was gradually transitioned into a role, and there was a rather lengthy “honeymoon” type period.  The world of work is so fast-paced and on-boarding/training is so expensive that companies expect a fairly immediate return on its labor investment.  First impressions are also very big in the work environment when all eyes are squarely on you, so being prepared to make a positive initial impact is important to your long-term reputation.

By having a plan for their first three milestone dates in your tenure, you will be giving yourself a competitive advantage over your competition.  A Hiring Manager will most likely be speaking to several candidates who will be similar in qualifications.  If you, however, can clearly outline how you will make a positive immediate impact, then you will look more like a “sure thing” for the decision-maker and positively stand out.  This is especially true since I don’t believe many candidates have prepared an acceptable response for this question.

Now, you may be wondering how you should answer such a question, as you do not work for and are not overly familiar with the organization.  You can, however, easily outline a reasonable plan, without having to get into the fine details of the position or the organization, by using some basic principles of a successful job start.  Let’s examine what can be an acceptable answer for each milestone interval.

• During the First 30 Days:  You want to stress that you want to complete any necessary company specific training, meet all key business partners (internal and external), and review company processes.  The message being communicated is how much you want the first thirty days to lay your groundwork for future success.  You may even want to overtly mention how important it is that you make a good first impression.  Consider referencing how much listening you plan to do as you absorb as much knowledge as possible.  In the first thirty days, you want to balance getting started quickly while not appearing overly aggressive to co-workers or business partners. 

• During the First 60 Days:  The next plan obviously builds upon what you did in the first thirty days.  In this section, stress your commitment to learning the necessary details of the industry and company in order to be successful.  You can reference wanting to identify opportunities for your Department as you examine the company and the industry.  In this section, you may want to tackle any “low hanging fruit” (in other words, get something done that is needed but won’t take substantial time or effort).  Doing this is a great way to continue to make a positive early impression.

• During the First 90 Days:  The goal at the end of ninety days is to be fully integrated into the job and the company.  You should be ready, during this time, to have a good idea (from your review) of what is needed to be done, and ready to take action on your conclusions.  A tip is to not communicate too often what your previous employer used to do. Instead, wait until being asked how it was handled or, with finesse, reference “in my experience” and then communicate the alternative.  Staff often will bristle at the thought of someone bringing all of their previous concepts, and will become less receptive of the idea.

As you can read from the 30-60-90 day outline above, you can successfully answer this question without getting into any specific detail.  What the Interviewer is looking for is that you are prepared to devote the time necessary and will take a logical approach to the start of your new position.  It also helps to convey how seriously you have taken the interview and how excited you are about the opportunity.

As always, best of luck in your job search.