If you work in business, or almost any other profession, you’ve likely heard of ROI. Many companies depend on measuring it internally to determine success. It can also be used in terms of whether a new hire was successful. Companies want to know how long after hiring someone can they expect to see a return on investment. Signing a salaried contract is no small decision, and companies want to judge how long it will take for you to make a change. This is why the ask: “How long will it take for you to make a significant contribution?” We’ll discuss giving a proper answer.

The Importance of Research

Research Dictionary Definition HighlightedAs is true with most interview questions, you’re benefited by having done research before hand. While other questions are moderately easier to answer because of it, here it makes a big difference. If you do research before being asked this question, you will have a large advantage. Knowing the lay of the land beforehand will help you better judge how long it will take you to adjust. This will usually allow you to formulate a plan of action.

Many interview experts judge this question as a great point to come up with a 30/60/90 plan that starts your first day of work. What this means is plotting out a plan for your first, second, and third months in a position. Having an extensive plan before getting a job can be impressive. However, you’re not likely to have too many details on how the company works internally. This will make it incredibly challenging to come up with a workable plan. If you do have access to the information to formulate one, go for it! However, if that isn’t the case, we have a different recommendation.

What to Do When Left in the Dark

Employee Using Chalk Board to Determine ContributionIf you’re unable to find the necessary information to formulate a plan, start thinking about what information you will need to ultimately put your skills into action. If you’ve worked in this industry for a while, you will likely have a sense of what the position may entail. At this point, begin to envision what information you would want on the first day of the job. Being able to go into an interview with a clear cut idea of what you need to get started will go a long way to making a good impression to interviewers.

Before we finish discussing this interview question, there is one last point to discuss. If you are looking to give a rough estimate of time to make a contribution, think about this: between different industries, your mileage may vary. Certain positions, like working in sales doing cold calls will means results will be expected immediately. Whereas working as a Brand Manager, management will expect results to take longer.

Keep this in mind when thinking about your timeframe. Again, as with all these questions, no one answer is perfect. Based on the information available to you should be able to give a rough estimate of the time to showing results. Or, if you are fortunate enough to be able to formulate a plan present in in your interview. Either option is better than being caught off guard and giving an arbitrary number without any explanation. We’ll be back on Thursday for some movie inspired career advice!