During a job interview you may be asked, “What does the company do to contribute to its employees' professional development” or, “Are there programs I would be able to participate in in order to stay on top of current trends in the industry”
An applicant usually asks this question because he wants to make sure he can contribute to the company while simultaneously expanding his own learning related to the field. This can signal an employee who is invested in continued education and who has an understanding of the fluidity of a specialized field. He may not have the financial resources to expand his professional development himself.
Points to Emphasize
When you answer this question, you’ll want to think broadly, as professional development can come in many forms.
- List any discounts or scholarships the company may offer to qualified employees.
- Discuss any programs that the company runs itself, including seminars, advanced trainings or classes.
- Reassure the applicant that the company understands the importance of continued development even if the company doesn’t specifically contribute to employees’ professional development.
- Discuss ways that the applicant would continue learning on the job through day-to-day duties.
An applicant who wants to continue his professional development will most likely be committed to performing well on the job.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
You may not know how to answer if you’re not prepared for this question. To avoid mistakes and pitfalls, follow these guidelines:
- Don’t admit that the company does nothing to contribute to professional development, as this may not be entirely true.
- Avoid downplaying the importance of professional development, as this could signal to the applicant that the company doesn’t believe in the necessity of a qualified workforce.
- Resist assuming that the applicant is looking for free education, as professional development is tied to the specific industry.
- If you’re not sure, let the applicant know that you will find out.
The applicant is most likely showing initiative by asking this question, so avoid any answers that may make him question the position.
A good example of an answer to a question about professional development is as follows:
We believe in the importance of professional development, and we offer a variety of programs and initiatives. All of our employees participate in advanced training through weekend workshops that are held four times a year. We also offer an education stipend for anyone who wishes to take classes related to the field at the local college.
No matter what types of contributions the company makes, a company that invests in its employees are usually able to retain them long term.