What steps have you taken in the last year to improve your qualifications?

This is one of the ‘harder’ interview questions that you might get asked during a job interview. As you can imagine, economies, businesses, and strategies constantly change in fast dynamic environments. Companies must, therefore, continue to adapt to stay profitable. This means that as the company changes, their workforce needs to adapt too. Therefore, when making hiring decisions, the most suitable candidates are usually the ones that are proactive in their professional self-development. Ask yourself, what have you done to improve yourself in the past year?

Even though this question can be classified as being ‘harder’ than others, it’s still a question that should not be difficult to answer. However, it does require a well thought-out and honest answer to convince the interviewer of your self-development activities.

This question comes in a variety of forms, for instance:

  • What kind of actions do you take to become better qualified for your career?
  • Have you taken any training or courses recently?
  • What are you doing to improve your professional skills?
  • How do you keep up with the latest trends in the industry?
  • What kind of self-improvement have you undertaken in your career?
  • Describe the areas where you could use improvement and what you have done to work on these areas.
  • What do you do to keep your knowledge level current?

Why is the interviewer asking this?

The main reason for asking this question is to try to find out if you are willing to grow and improve as a professional. Professional growth can mean different things because there are different ways to develop yourself. There is, for instance, employer-led training or even mandatory training within a company, and there’s training that you take on your own initiative, which shows proactiveness.

The interviewer is curious to see if you are progressing with your skillset development. So, therefore, always make sure that you show that you are ready to learn something new. Also, ensure that you can back such claims up with facts and show that you’re a proactive individual when it comes to self-development. Your answer gives the interviewer insights into your professional behavioral patterns and your willingness to invest in yourself to develop your skillset throughout your career.

How to approach interview questions about improving your qualifications

Just like other common job interview questions, you should be prepared to answer questions about self-development and how you’re improving your qualifications.

To start your preparation off write down a top three of courses that you have completed in recent years. These are the courses that you followed on your own initiative. Per course, you should write down a short paragraph or bullet points on how you benefited from that specific course. Your goal is to present yourself as someone who is eager to learn and develop. When asked about a certain course, you can ask the interviewer if he or she is familiar with the course before you present your key takeaways. Describe what the courses were about, what you’ve learned, and how they broadened your horizon. You can also talk about how you stay up to date of current market developments and what advantage this gives you.

Showing that you took the initiative to develop yourself is always a plus. Face it, mentioning the company sponsored or mandatory training courses are not that impressive. Think of courses, seminars, and training that you went to develop your existing skills or learn new ones. Examples where you’ve gone out of your way to work on your development or if you volunteered to use your abilities to help others are always worth sharing.

In short, discuss your professional development, specific training programs, educational curricula, specific studies in your professional field, on-the-job training, engaging a mentor, other skills building activities, industry-relevant books, etc.

Sample ‘What Have You Done To Improve Yourself In The Past Year?’ Job Interview Answers

Sample 1:

‘Continuing education and following courses is a requirement to maintain my license in our industry as a professional. That’s also the reason why I bring it upon myself to go out of my way to go to make sure that I do the necessary and more. Each year I take various elective courses to follow market developments and develop myself as a professional in our industry. After one specific course, I convinced my manager to let me put my new skills and knowledge into practice. After a couple of months, we saw significant results in business growth, and I started training two co-workers so that they, in their turn, could help others as well. At the moment, I am waiting for confirmation to join a volunteering program to help young professionals develop their skills by transferring my knowledge.’

Bonus: What you should never say.

Never, ever, say something like:

‘I took some courses in my previous job because it was free and I could do it during work hours. For me, this was perfect because I did not really like what I did at the time. I chose a course that was taught in the city with a couple of co-workers. This way we could do the course during the day and go out into the city immediately after.’

Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Adaptability
  3. Admission
  4. Behavioral
  5. Career Change
  6. Career Goals
  7. Communication
  8. Competency
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Creative Thinking
  11. Cultural Fit
  12. Customer Service
  13. Direct
  14. Experience
  15. Government
  16. Graduate
  17. Growth Potential
  18. Honesty & Integrity
  19. Illegal
  20. Inappropriate
  21. Job Satisfaction
  22. Leadership
  23. Management
  24. Entry-Level & No experience
  25. Performance-Based
  26. Personal
  27. Prioritization & Time Management
  28. Problem-solving
  29. Salary
  30. Situational & Scenario-based
  31. Stress Management
  32. Teamwork
  33. Telephone Interview
  34. Tough
  35. Uncomfortable
  36. Work Ethic