Remember the time when you were to decide your stream after completing your class 10th or when you were to decide about any course after your 12th? Yes, those two junctions were the most crucial steps in your career-line and that’s because your decisions at those points guided what your career will look like all through its way? Why you chose the stream you chose? And why you chose the course that you chose? Or to be more precise why are you into this field or on this path leading towards a certain pre-defined goal? Well, there is always a reason for everything and thus your decisions were also influenced by something or should I say, someone.
Yes, when you talk about or think of your career, there is no doubt about the fact that certain people or someone special had an impact on your career choices. This impact or influence could be direct or indirect. In-fact there are many ways in which someone can make their impact on your life. Such an influencing person or persons can be your family members, spouse, peers or seniors, etc. But in this new and modern age of tremendous social connectivity, any public figure too can be an inspiration to you for choosing a particular career path.
Many people or I should say candidates who sit for an interview, know about the person(s) who has/have made an impact on their career choices. But, not all of them are aware of it. But, that doesn’t give the interviewer any excuse to skip this question. He or she may ask you this question that who has impacted you the most in your career, how, and why you feel so. This good question gives you the chance to deliver a better answer and impress upon the interviewer.
So before framing up your answer for your next interview, consider the following:
What Interviewer is trying to judge?
The hiring manager has several reasons for asking this question from you. Those reasons can be:
1. To know whether you are aware of it: Most of the time people are not even aware of the fact or the person who has impacted him or her in choosing this career. Only a few candidates know about it and could answer this question in a well-desired manner.
2. Who has impacted you? The first and foremost reason is stated in the question itself. The HR manager or the interviewer wants to know about the one who has impacted you in choosing this career field. Is it someone from your family itself or you look up to someone outside your family as an inspiration.
3. Why do you consider that the person has an impact on your career: You cannot mention anybody’s name just for the sake of answering the question? You have to also mention the reason why you think that person affected your decisions related to career. Some people mention that their mother has a great impact on their life but then they could not explain how so?
4. How would you behave with your seniors? Your answer to this question will let the hiring manager or the employer know whether you accept suggestions from others or not. If yes, then how do you take those suggestions, positively or negatively? This will help the employer in judging your behavior with the seniors, juniors, and peer in the organization.
Besides these all the above-mentioned reasons one of the other reasons may be that the interviewer is interested in ‘knowing the way you have been raised’. Are you a person who seeks motivation or inspiration only within the people you know or you are a person who would look beyond boundaries as well.
Before actually framing up your answer to this question there are certain pre-requisites that you should do to make a sensible answer to this question. These vary from recalling of your early career-days to remembering everyone whom you have come across till now concerning your career. Some of the pre-requisites are:
1. Thinking about the initial decisions of your career: To recall who has an impact on your career choices is to remind you of your early days in this particular field. It can be your school days or college days or even days spent at some previous/earlier organization.
2. Who impacted you: Now think of who impacted you? Or what impacted you to come on this career path? Are you intrigued to try your hands in this sphere just because some of your known or relative is doing so or have you researched about it?
3. Why have you been impacted? Why have you impacted the way you have been impacted by that person or persons? Was it some reason related to finance i.e. a handsome salary package or was it some reason related to any trait of a charismatic personality. Or are you on this career lane just because someone told you to do so?
4. Your motivating force: If you are a person who is walking a path just because he or she was told to do so then you lack motivation and you won’t be able to make a huge difference to the organization. But if you are someone who is on a path out of his curiosity or his interest then you will surely be a valuable asset to the company. So, while mentioning your answer to this question, you need to mention some motivating or inspiring factor as well.
Tips On What To Include And What To Avoid
About What To INCLUDE:
The interviewer is interested in knowing about what all you’ve learned and how you work with others in the organization. So keep those things in mind as you formulate a response to such a question. Along with those, also emphasize on:
1. A relevant character trait: You can include a relevant personality trait or any ability that you have developed after getting inspired by your inspiring figure in life. And also talk about how that skill or trait would help you in your workspace.
2. Match your interest with your career-path: In case you have researched about the careers available after a certain point of achievement, let’s say after 12th, and you have found your dream career out of that self-research phase then you must mention and match your interests with skills required in your career zone. So that the reason why you think this line to be perfect for you to get clear to the interviewer.
3. How this person helped you? In case you have a certain figure or personality in your life that has impacted your career-related decisions then mention the challenges those the person has helped you to overcome. Or any mistakes those you have improved on because of that person.
4. Relating all the learning with your career: Whatever the person has taught you or helped you to improve, you must relate all those facts with your career. Otherwise, it won’t make any sense of mentioning about the person during your interview.
5. Being Positive: Be as positive as you can be. Leave an impression on the interviewer that you are someone who would learn things and always see positive in all the situations.
Things to AVOID:
Some candidates commit mistakes in answer to this question even after doing a lot of deliberations on the answer. The common mistakes in response to such a question can be:
1. Shifting the focus to another person: Yes, the question asks you to mention a person who has impacted your career in a great way that means you are required to talk about some other person than yourself. But this in no way means that you will be shifting the whole interviewer to that person. This is your big day, talk more of yourself.
2. Leaving things open-ended: You cannot just mention about a person and just say that this person has impacted me in this or that way. You have to clarify why he or she has impacted you and why is his or her impact being expended up to your career as well?
3. Negative tone: Stay away from making a negative comment about anyone at any point of time during the interview. You cannot say that you hated the person at the beginning but gradually understood his role in your life. Stay and say positive about all that you have faced, how it changed you for being a better person?
4. Not mentioning about recent effects of the person’s influence on your professional sphere: While giving the reason as to why you consider that person to be your professional role-model, mention some of the recent effects of that influence in your profession.
Preparing your answer:
After going through all the above tips regarding “how to answer the question asking who has impacted or impacts your career the most”, you must have formed some idea for preparing your answer as well. SO, to help you a bit more, you can follow the given pattern of format for your answer to make it more acceptable:
1. Mention of the person: Do not be vague or ambiguous while mentioning about the person or the persons. State clearly about who has impacted you so that the interviewer stays in no confusion about it. If your mother has impacted you then clearly mention her rather than saying ‘one of the family members’.
2. Tell the reason: As mentioned earlier, you cannot leave your answer open-ended after mentioning the person. Also, incorporate the reason for this influence in your answer. If someone has impacted you; then why or how he or she has been able to do so? This is what the interviewer is more interested in knowing.
3. Relate with your career: I don’t think there should be any doubt regarding this point. The interviewer is interested in knowing only and only about your professional life. How you are in a professional zone and what made you be like that? So, satisfy the interviewer with a proper answer that relates to you, your personality, and your career. That’s it.
For many of the people, such a person is either one of their family members or any of their teachers. For me, I would say that my first manager, who was my mentor during my first job in the industry, has the most impact on my career decisions. She was not only an amazing leader but also a person with great knowledge of her work and work environment. My colleagues and I were fascinated with the way she used to run a team of 10 members. She was very effective in her approach, be it any field. I tried to incorporate many of her character traits in me as I progressed further in my career.
For any person, an influencer, either in personal or professional life, can be someone who impacts one’s life in such a way that they drag the person out of his/her comfort zone and motivates him/her to push their limits further. One of my teachers during my graduation years was such a personality in my life. He used to teach us economics but more than teaching that particular subject he used to teach about life-lessons or values or morals etc. He made us see outside our perspectives. He made us see things from a different angle and that changed my perception towards life and career. And that’s why I give equal importance to the morals of a person as I give to the knowledge and experience of that person.
The one who has impacted me or my career the most is one of my seniors. I believe he is the person who has encouraged and motivated me in such a manner as no one else ever did. He always inspired me to push my limits towards success. In-fact he is the one who helped me in defining what success would mean to me. He always believed in me, more than me. In every competition or any other junction he would tell me that I could do the thing, nothing is impossible. And his belief in me made me unstoppable. I am very much thankful to him for believing in me always.
Some people are natural in terms of some specific skills in them which help them in their career; while others acquire or learn such skills through someone else. I am one of such people who have learned some career-boosting skills with someone’s help. One of my colleagues during my previous job has taught me to advance IT skills along with its implications in business. Just because I have acquired those skills in time I was able to apply to your company today. I believe the skills that I possess today will have a lot to do with my success in my career.
In response to this question, I would say that many people have their contribution in making me who I am today. The position that I hold today in my career is not just because of any one specific trait or skill in my personality. I hold this position because of all the skill sets, all the characteristics that I have in me. And this all I have acquired over time by learning from many people as I moved ahead in my career lane. My teachers, my colleagues, my seniors, and in-fact my juniors have their roles in teaching me various life-lessons. And I am grateful to everyone that I have ever met and who has ever taught me anything in life.
I would say that my accountancy professor during the second year of my college had a massive impact on my career life. It was a fine day when he approached me after I had submitted my paper. He came to me with feedback and a suggestion. He told me that my ideas were beyond my years which somehow seemed an unbelievable sentence to me at that time. But, he repeatedly made me realize my true potential and since then he was a wonderful mentor to me. He went out of his comfort shoes for pursuing me to take up a career in the business field because of the potential that he saw in me. I attended various orientation targeted towards entrepreneurial mind-set which eventually opened my eyes to the business world. I never looked back since then.
Although I have been a mentee to many of the mentors in my life and I hold feelings of gratitude for each one of them. But still, if I need to choose any one person who has been the most influential to me in my career life, I would say such a person is my previous boss. I admire him not because of one but many traits. Out of them, one is his commitment to integrity. I remember when I was hired for my last job, my boss promised me a pay-raise after 3 months of my work. However, after 3 months, the company was not in a position to give me a pay-raise. At that time my boss gave me a pay-raise out of his salary. This act of him has a profound impact on me. That was the time when I learned the true meaning of the word ‘integrity’.
I cannot think of any other such person in my life rather than my mother. She was a woman whose top priority was the education of her daughter. Widowed at an early age with the responsibility to raise two children, my mother has worked as a maid in other houses to feed her children. Not just feeding but the education of her children mattered equal to her. She saved for us by cutting down expenditure on her basic needs. She is a hero to me. Her struggle for us always encourages me to work harder every time. She has been the most inspiring lady in my life who has taught me a great level of resiliency. I carry this skill of working hard from an early age only which will surely benefit in my career years.
To be honest, here, I would like to thank myself for being whosoever I am today. I have worked hard a lot on myself and the reason that I hold such a good position in the industry today is only that I deserve this. For me, the person himself or herself is most responsible for his or her success. I believe in the concept of self-reliance. If a person is self-motivated then nothing can stop him/her. It all depends on the person himself that how he is propelling his career. If failed then it’s his fault and if succeeded then it’s only his victory.
[Such an answer may make you look like a self-confident person but along with that, you seem to be an egoistic person in such answers. The interviewer or the employer would like to hire a person who works well with a team not individually.]
I consider Mahatma Gandhi Ji to be my role model in taking my career-related decisions. I follow his principles of non-violence and truth every time. Be is a personal or professional sphere I try to exercise his teachings. He was a great freedom fighter and a greater leader at the time of our independence. I too strive to be a leader who has many followers. I like the way he used to convince people to do certain things like protests, movements, etc. I have read many books on him and I am inspired by him to a great extent. I wish to be like him someday.
[The answer containing mention of some great personality may backfire during the interview. Stay away from such answers, it makes your answer look unauthentic and doesn’t relate to current working conditions.]