The best way to answer questions about integrating at a new job


The first few days at a new job can set the tone for your tenure with that employer. You’re joining a team where you don’t know anyone, and you’re taking on tasks for which the expected outcomes may not be entirely clear.

For all these reasons, the recruiter may decide to ask you questions related to how you will approach these critical first few days, if indeed you are offered the position.

For a recruiter, it’s a good way to evaluate your judgment and your understanding of how priorities are managed within an organization.

In this article I’ll suggest a few ways you can prepare yourself for this question, should you be selected for an interview.

I took inspiration for this article from reading The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins.

Personalize your answer based on the context

First, this question allows the recruiter to evaluate if you understand the current situation of the organization and how you plan to take it into account.

For example, if the company is in a recovery stage, it will be important for you to be able to react quickly and be courageous when making decisions.

On the other hand, if the organization is in good financial health and the role you’ve applied for involves replacing a leader who was well-liked by everyone, it’s preferable to talk about your desire to really understand the company before acting and to act primarily as a facilitator.

The themes you choose to focus on in your answer will speak volumes about your vision of the position. Will you focus on marketing? Human Resources? Innovation?

The question provides you with an opportunity to show how aware you are of the company’s specific needs. The most important thing is to avoid giving a generic answer that could be applied to any organization.

Demonstrating autonomy

Some candidates are afraid to take risks when answering this question, or just don’t know what to say, which can lead them to say they will simply follow their bosses’ orders when they start working.

Rather than giving an impression of flexibility, however, this answer can make the candidate can come across as a robot that merely does as it’s told.

It’s a better idea to take a specific direction with one’s answer to this question, even if it goes off the rails. If you don’t answer in a way that perfectly aligns with the recruiter’s expectations, it’s not a big deal; you can always adjust.

If you suggest an idea that isn’t quite the correct one due to a lack of knowledge about the company, it’s hard to blame you: It’s normal to not have all the information needed to respond to this question perfectly.

That said, try to avoid being too categorical in your answer, as this could come off as a bit spooky.

Of course, in reality, you won’t be left to your own devices during your integration and you will be guided in the direction you need to take.

Take concrete action

The purpose of interview questions is to provide you with opportunities to show off your personality.

If you give vague answers, they won’t be helpful to the recruiter.

For example, avoid getting into this type of banality: “In my first weeks, I’ll work hard to get to know everyone and increase my understanding of the company’s service offer and clients. My goal is to learn and integrate with the team…”

You can make the same point, but add precise actions to your answer:

“In my first week, I intend to meet each person on my team by meeting them in their office and asking about their vision of our priorities, and what they appreciate in a teammate…”

Not only does this add a personal dimension to your answer, which allows your coworkers to actually visualize your arrival on the team, it also fosters the feeling that you know what you are planning to do once you arrive.

Cover the spectrum

Another pitfall to avoid when answering this question is focusing on a single aspect of the position.

For example, if you particularly enjoy the human resources aspect of a position, it’s good to talk about this and develop your idea. It’s even OK to say that you have a preference for this element. In any case, the recruiter may come to this conclusion on their own.

But if you ignore all other aspects of the company in your answer, it may raise some red flags.

It’s a good idea to make a conscious effort to cover all the aspects of the position and to bring pertinent ideas accordingly.

In your head, do a quick review of your answer: Did I talk about production? Did I touch on business development? What about finances?

Also try to adapt your answer based on the company and your contact. If you’re talking to a director of sales, you can be sure that they will be sensitive to the sales aspect of the position. If it’s a growing company, there will be interest in performance management.

If there’s an important aspect that you don’t feel particularly knowledgeable about, read up about it or listen to a podcast on the subject.

In conclusion

I’m sure you realize that this question pertains mostly to candidates interviewing for management positions or other professionals with considerable responsibilities.

It may be asked for more technical positions as well, but the expectations in regards to your answer won’t be as high.

To make sure that you’re well-prepared to answer, you can make a written plan. If you think it’s a good idea you can bring it with you to the interview and give it to the recruiter.

In my experience, it’s rare for candidates to do so, but it may work in a candidate’s favor and make them stand out from the pack.

Source Mathieu Guenette