What aspects of your career path would you like to have been different?

  | James Innes

What aspects of your career path would you like to have been different?

Alternative and related questions:

If you were just starting out in your career again, what would you do differently?
How do you feel about your career path to date?

The meaning behind the question:

The interviewer is very simply looking for evidence of mistakes, failings and regrets – because any such issues will inevitably tell them a lot about you and, in particular, a lot of very useful negative information!

Your answer:

Everyone has loose threads – untidy parts of their life that they would like to remove. But if you were able to pull on one of those threads you could find it unravels the tapestry of your life.  So, assuming you're happy with the current path of your career, it's therefore pointless having any regrets about the past – and even more pointless to admit such regrets to your interviewer!

Don't be tempted to bare your heart.  You're sitting opposite an interviewer, not a psychotherapist.  You have nothing to gain – and plenty to lose – from confessing to any disappointments.  Conversely, just saying that there's nothing you would like to have been different will sound empty and portray you as lacking in imagination.

The secret to this question is to seize upon something which would not have lead you down a different path but which would have led to your arriving at your current position more quickly than you have otherwise done – and then explaining why it simply wasn't possible!

An alternative approach is to shift the emphasis of the question by explaining that you're happy with your career path to date but recognise that it's now time to make a move and that it would be a mistake to carry on in your current job.  The choice is yours, although I personally prefer the former strategy.


I'm very pleased with the path my career has taken to date.  I've made a series of conscious decisions that have led me to where I am and to be sitting before you today. If there was any aspect of my career path that I would like to have been different then it would probably be to have embarked on my MBA a little earlier.  However, that's easy to say now but, at the time, with the workload I had to manage, it simply wasn't physically possible for me to take on my MBA any earlier – and attempting to do so would most likely have been detrimental both to my MBA and to my ability to perform my job.

Word of warning:

Don't criticise others – other individuals or other organisations – when talking about your career path.  Avoid any negativity full stop.

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