Job Interview Question & Answer: What Have You Done in the Past Year?
Reason for the Question
Hiring managers often ask, “What have you done in the past year?” during job interviews. While this might seem like a broad question, interviewers want to know how job hopefuls strive to grow as people and workers. Successful candidates will use their replies to show hiring personnel their commitment to professional growth.
How to Answer
To show their desire for self-improvement, job seekers should talk about their educational pursuits, work history, volunteer efforts, or skill development from the past year. No matter which topic you choose, the important thing is to focus on experiences that match the duties of the job you want. Career growth opportunities to discuss include:
- Furthering education goals: Attending college courses, vocational school, or GED programs are great activities to detail in your response. Highlight classes and certifications relevant to the position. Employers like to hire applicants that pursue lifelong learning in their fields.
- Job and volunteer experience: Since they show a good work ethic, paid or unpaid jobs from the past year can also factor into a good response. This demonstrates that you’re motivated and eager to keep busy and shows how you’re working to advance your personal and career goals.
- Skill development: Abilities you’ve gained or improved are another element to emphasize. Hiring supervisors want qualified workers, so sharing that you already have the necessary skills lets them know you can handle the job. Candidates who make time for self-improvement also display proactivity, which is a valuable quality for new hires.
Responses to Avoid
A focused answer sticks to professional growth and avoids unrelated subjects. Rather than saying a little about many subjects, it’s smart to choose one or two of your activities and detail how they prepared you for this job. However, make sure you stay honest. Misleading interviewers about your experience or credentials can lead to termination later.
Example Replies to “What Have You Been Doing in the Last Year?”
Showing employers you have the skills and dedication to do the job can be as simple as replying to this classic interview question. Make sure your response is truthful, concise, focused, and relevant to the job for which you are interviewing. These sample answers can help you craft your own, personalized response.
Sample Answer 1 – Fashion retail sales associate
“My dream has always been to go into fashion merchandising. This year I’ve had several great chances to build my fashion knowledge and skillset that will be useful as a sales associate.”
“Attending New York Fashion Week in February helped me catch up on industry trends and styling tips I’m excited to share with customers. I’m also two courses into my five-course visual merchandising certificate, which is all about optimizing the way we present products. I’m looking forward to putting the things I’ve learned into practice in a real retail setting.”
Sample Answer 2 – Fast food team member
“Through my job as a summer camp counselor and my coursework, I’ve learned a lot about teamwork this year. Dealing with conflicts between campers while keeping to a strict schedule required me to coordinate with my fellow counselors to keep all the kids happy, healthy, and having fun.”
“This knowledge ended up coming in handy during an English group project a few months later. By applying these communication skills, I was able to help our group split up tasks, turn in work on time, and write a cohesive, A+ paper. I believe the teamwork that brought me this far will help me be an effective team member.”
Sample Answer 3 – Pet store worker
“While I’ve always loved animals, volunteering at the animal shelter and fostering three special-needs pets this year has made a big impact on me. I want to make helping people pick and care for their pets into a career, which is what caught my eye about this position.”
“I think many of the skills I learned while volunteering or fostering will help me as an animal care worker at your store. Talking with adoptive families has helped me hone my communication skills, and taking the shelter’s training courses has grown my knowledge base. Feeding and caring for a variety of animals has also made me familiar with many of the pets you sell here.”