Understand what’s expected during the first three months on the job.
First, let’s take a look at what this question is actually asking. Why the numbers 30, 60 and 90? These numbers correspond to standard cut-offs for your first three months on the job—30 days, 60 days or 90 days. Interviewers ask this question for a number of reasons. They want to see how you think about ramping up in your new role, how fast you’ll complete the onboarding process and what types of goals and standards you hold yourself to, especially in a new environment.
This onboarding period may seem daunting, but it can be an exciting time, too. You will learn a lot about your duties, your supervisor, company culture and workplace etiquette. You also will learn a lot about yourself and how you fit into the larger organization.
Do your research.
Even if you’ve had an internship in the field before, you can’t really know what a job entails until you’ve worked full-time in the role. That doesn’t mean you can’t do your research to get a fuller picture. Here are some ideas for where to look for a dose of realism (and some healthy inspiration):
- Job listings—Do a quick Google search for similar roles and titles to get a sense of what those responsibilities look like.
- Employee resumes—Perusing the online resumes of young professionals in your intended field can be invaluable. Resumes provide more in-depth information than company profiles and bios. Again, start with people who are just a couple of years more experienced than you to see what they’ve accomplished.
- Talk to someone—Arrange an informal meeting with someone in your intended field, preferably someone around your age and experience level. Explain that you would like to get started in the industry and have questions about what to reasonably expect during the first three months and the rest of the first year on the job.
Prepare your answer by outlining your goals for each month.
After you’ve studied up on what you may be doing at your job, think about what you can realistically accomplish during this initial period. What kinds of concrete goals can you set? What projects are you excited to take on? If possible, stick to quantifiable results. Then practice your answer to the interview question. Try to condense your response to 3-4 sentences.
Say something like: “In addition to getting to know the team and getting fully up to speed with the role, there’s a lot I want to accomplish during my first three months in the role of editor. During my first 30 days, I want to get a sense of our blog’s editorial goals and use those to create a new blog design. After 60 days, I want our blog redesign launched and to have at least 50 contributors writing for the website. After 90 days, I want to switch the efforts from building the team to tracking growth, and I’m hoping that we can have 100,000 unique visitors by then through utilizing our marketing channels and those of our contributors.”
Always have a backup answer ready.
If you don’t a clear idea of the exact goals for the position or what you would like to accomplish, there are some things you can touch on that are relevant for almost any role. This can serve as your backup answer and you should always have one ready.
Say something like: “Within 30 days, I plan to get to know the people I’ll be working with the most and to be comfortable with them. Within 60 days, I plan to have a solid understanding of the industry, the company and the competitive landscape so that I can hold my own in any conversation about the company. Within 90 days, I plan to meet the goals that have been set for me.”