With this question, the interviewee is asking you to summarize in one answer what is the most important thing that will impact his or her ability to be successful and have a future in this career. Your answer could be about future trends, about growth potential, what type of personality makes one successful, or what work style is necessary to succeed. They may have asked all those individual questions but now they want to know what it really takes to make it or break it.
Points to Emphasize
Focus on what really is the most important thing. Clearly, there are many factors that should be taken into consideration but use your experience in the field to try to narrow it down to one that is truly critical. If you cannot, then explain why and make these points about each.
- Explain why this one thing is so critical in terms of the career in general.
- Break it down in terms of the effect on the particular position being applied for.
- Let the person know what he or she can do to improve their outcome with regard to this issue.
- Discuss ways that any negatives can be minimized.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
- You obviously have your own experience working in this field but be sure that you answer it in a more general way so that it is relevant to anyone.
- Even if you feel that there are things that are equally important, really consider the question first before answering.
- If you do include more than one thing in your answer, don’t use that as license to include everything that is important.
- Do not be so general that the person does not see what the impact is for her or him.
- Don’t just tell your personal story.
As always, be honest and direct and do not try to gloss over any negatives. Although you always want to be positive, the most important thing to know may be a potential negative. In that case, you want to give your answer in such a way that the job candidate still sees a future in it, such as:
The most important thing to know about entering this career is that eventually you will need further training in order to advance, although you will have several years before that becomes an issue. When that time comes, we work with our employees that have what it takes to advance to help them get the skill set they need to move up.