You're at a job interview, and it’s all looking positive until you’re asked, “what will you achieve in the first 90 days of working here?” You draw a blank. You know that the 90 day trial period is about to be abolished, unless the company has fewer than 20 employees. This means they can no longer end your employment without giving a reason during that time. So why are they asking?

The truth is, many employers ask their job candidates this question to give them an understanding of how they solve problems and how they set goals. With the 90 day trial disappearing, it’s possible this question will become even more common.  Sure, you’ll still be working there at the end of 90 days whatever happens - no longer can you be treated as a disposable resource. But let’s face it; employers are terrified they’ll discover they’ve made a huge mistake. 

Employing people can be risky and employers want to choose the right candidate and avoid hiring someone who won’t deliver on the promises made at interview. 

What do Employers Want to Know? 

When you’re hired for a role, you’re expected to perform well in it. NZ’s 90 day trial period has given employers the ability to remove employees who are not performing well during their first 90 days without giving a reason. The pressure has been on for the new employee to prove their worth and perform well during this time. However, on May 6th 2019, the 90 day trial will be removed. While this will ensure that people are being treated fairly and are protected against poor employment practices, some employers are potentially less likely to take a chance on someone.

So what exactly are employers wanting to know when they ask you that question?
  • Onboarding – will you be fully up to steam with your role, requirements and company policies?
  • Goals – what will you achieve by each of the 30, 60 and 90-day marks?  Feedback – what will you seek feedback on? From whom and when? What will you do with this feedback?
  • Recommendations – if you can recommend a better way of doing something, how will you approach this? To whom would you tell? How would you tell them?
  • Teamwork – what type of relationships will you build with other employees and management? How will you build productive and solid working relationships? What will these relationships look like?



Explaining What You Will Achieve During the First 90 Days on the Job 

Breaking up your first 90 days into a 30-60-90 day plan is a great way to talk about what you will achieve.

The first 30 days

The first 30 days is arguably the most important.  This is where you will be listening and absorbing as much as possible.  Learning about the job, the company, your team, who the key influencers are and getting crystal clear on what is expected of you, is your main focus during this time. 

It’s important to get this across in your answers.  Talk about how you will find out what your new boss wants from you, how you will gain an understanding of what the main challenges are, as well as how you will identify the specific projects that need addressing first. 

Mention that your focus will be to really listen during this time, build relationships and to ask lots of great questions to deepen your understanding. Making a plan to meet with the key stakeholders, both internally and externally will be key to successfully achieving this.

60 days

Although you will still be learning, by this time you should have gained some good insights into the company. You may have started reviewing some processes during the last month and now you may want to start focusing on implementing some improvements. 

It’s critical to get across in your answer that you won’t be the person that comes in and immediately starts criticising everything. You don’t want to rile up those employees that have been working there for a while and who won’t necessarily receive your ideas very well.

Indicate you will meet with your manager to put your ideas across and get some feedback/advice on how to handle any barriers or office politics.  You won’t want to be trying to change it all at this stage, but you will want to be adding some real value and setting some clear goals and strategic initiatives.

90 days
Some of those key improvements should be up and running at this point and you are no doubt being assessed on your ability to get some results.  By now you will be wanting to lead a project; something that will achieve a quick win, demonstrate your skills and bring benefit to others.
Talk about how you will use what you have learnt from your stakeholder meetings to make suggestions for improvement, or key projects that will fit in with the organisations broader picture.  If you have a team, it will be important to get the team aligned with you and supportive of your objectives and your management style.  Focus on the importance of  two way communication in your answer and how you will alleviate any anxiety they might have around having a new manager. Getting their support as well as your manager’s is critical.

After all that effort, you’ve got the job and now you can relax!  Well, not quite. You don’t want to blow it by turning up unprepared, so here are a few tips to help you make a great first impression.

Tips on What you Can Do to Prepare Before You Start


  • Email your new boss and ask if there is anything you need to do in order to prepare before you start.  Make sure you follow through with any expectations that come out of this.
  • Connect with your new colleagues on LinkedIn and send a friendly note letting them know how excited you are to join them. Reread the job description and ensure you know what it is you are expected to do.
  • The first few months in a new job can be intense, so try and reduce other obligations to ensure you can focus on learning the role.
  • Read up on the company – newsletters, blogs, company social media pages will all give you valuable insights on the bigger picture.
You can never be over-prepared for a job interview, and we’re here to help. Our career transition services will provide you with the skills you need to ace your job seeking process and achieve the position of your dreams. Get in touch with us today and let’s move your career forward.