When you go into a room for a professional job interview, you might be asked, "Who has impacted you the most in your career and how?" There are a few reasons the hiring manager might pose this question.
First, the interviewer wants to know how you have developed over time and if you are likely to grow in a way that is beneficial to the company. The hiring manager is also trying to find out if you are willing to take advice from others. This gives the interviewer insight into how you might interact with superiors and what motivates you as an employee.
Points to Emphasize
The interviewer really wants to know what you've learned and how you work with others, so keep that in mind as you formulate a response. Include any relevant character traits or developed abilities.
- Focus on skills this person taught you.
- Emphasize any challenges this person helped you overcome.
- Highlight how this person helped you learn from your mistakes.
- Show how this person had an impact on your personal and/or career growth.
Try to be as positive as possible and leave the impression that your experience qualifies you for the position. Use this question as an opportunity to show how you can benefit the company.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
The hiring manager might ask about the impact another individual had on your life, but that doesn't mean you should focus the conversation on others. Relate everything back to how you can benefit the company.
- Avoid being too general about how the person had an impact on you and your career.
- Do not focus more on the individual than yourself.
- Do not fail to highlight recent effects of this person's influence on your professional actions.
- Do not downplay your role in your own accomplishments.
Remember, the interview is still about you. Asking about your mentor is a means of getting to know you, so be as transparent as possible in your response.
Here is an example of a good answer to the question:
I would say my first manager has most impacted my career in terms of a mentor. She was an amazing leader and my coworkers and I responded really well to the way she ran the team. As I progressed in my own management career, I incorporated many of her leadership tactics including the way she resolved conflicts, how she spoke to her colleges and her high level of organization.
Do your best to leave the hiring manager with the impression that you are a good fit for the enterprise.