One of the best ways to stand out in your interview is to create a 90-day business plan (also called a 30-60-90-day plan) to show employers how you’ll help them in the first three months on the job.
Having a plan to learn the job and succeed quickly is going to set you apart from other candidates and make you more attractive to employers.
Let’s look at how to create a plan that will land you the job…
I recommend splitting your 90-day business plan into three sections: 0-30 days, 30-60 days, and 60-90 days.
So we’ll actually be creating a 30-60-90 day plan.
We’ll divide it into three periods, and you’ll outline different goals and milestones for each of the first three months.
I’ll help you do this below.
If you prefer to lump everything together into a single 90-day period, that’s fine too.
In your business plan, you want to show the interviewer the following:
So let’s look at each 30-day period now, and what should go into each…
In the first part of your business plan, you’ll want to focus on training/learning.
The company likely has a training program (if you’re not sure, this is a good question to ask in the interview).
So what is your plan to make the most of their training, and get up to speed quickly?
This could include reviewing and studying at home each night for the first week, staying 30 minutes late to review what you learned each day, finding a teammate to have lunches with, or finding a fellow new hire to review with (if you’re in a training class with multiple people).
Other things to talk about in the first part of your plan:
Your goal in this section is to show them you have a detailed plan and a lot of motivation to learn the basics of the job and understand how they operate quickly.
The next 30 days should focus on how you’ll learn and improve by “doing”.
By now, you should be able to start using what you’ve learned to perform some of the job duties on your own.
You might be interacting with team members, customers, etc. (this will depend on your specific position)
And while learning is still a focus here, you want to show them that you plan on being ready to work hands-on and learn in a real-world environment.
Also, a big part of this section should be getting feedback from your manager to see how you’re progressing.
What is your plan for checking in, receiving and organizing feedback, and using it to improve?
Most new employees wait for their manager to set up a meeting to review their performance…
Show the interviewer that you’re different – that you’ll take initiative and be responsible for this yourself.
Employers love when a job candidate seems proactive and self-starting.
In the final 30 days of your 90-day plan, you want to show the interviewer that you’ll be ready to use everything you’ve learned to work independently.
You’ll be up-to-speed, contributing to the team’s efforts, and not requiring any more supervision/help than anyone else on the team.
You may also want to talk about ways you’ll go above and beyond the basic job duties now.
This could include looking for processes that can be improved, finding new ways to help the company get more customers, etc.
Also, you can still include steps for getting feedback and continuing to improve.
But it should be less of a focus here. The main focus now should be on contributions, independent work, and “taking off” with what you’ve learned.
What will you be able to do for them? What will you be contributing after 90 days?
When talking about a specific goal or objective in your 90-day job interview plan, try to use SMART goals whenever possible.
SMART goals are:
Saying, “I plan on being very good at serving customers after 90 days,” doesn’t say much.
However, it sounds a lot more impressive if you say something like, “At the 90-day mark, I plan on achieving 120% of the monthly goal for customer service calls taken, and I will achieve a customer satisfaction rating of 98% or greater.”
One strategy I’ve seen used very effectively is to divide your main goals for each 30-day period into two different categories: Learning Goals and Performance Goals.
You’ll have more Learning Goals than Performance Goals in the first 30-day period.
Then, as you move through the plan, you’ll gradually shift to having more Performance Goals, and fewer Learning Goals (but still some!)
You can also add one or two personal goals, such as having lunch with one new team member per week, or visiting the gym after work two nights per week to stay healthy.
Don’t worry if this sounds complicated. Coming up soon I’m going to show you a full example of a 90-day plan for your interview, that you can copy.
And in that sample business plan, you’ll see the three different categories laid out (Learning Goals, Performance Goals, and Personal Goals).
If you’re comfortable making a good-looking document in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or some other word-processing software, feel free to use that to create your 30-60-90 day business plan.
Otherwise, I’d recommend using Canva.com.
The website has great templates for creating a PDF, and it’s free to use. I use it myself for creating images and PDF guides for this blog.
I’d keep the whole document to 1-2 pages maximum.
It’s an outline/presentation, not an essay.
Try to avoid long paragraphs and giant blocks of text with no spacing.
Make it skimmable and easy to read.
Use headers, bullets, etc.
Here’s a full example of how you might lay out your 90-day plan…
(Write your main focus and objective here. The priority should be learning and getting up to speed on the basics as quickly as possible. What will you need to learn to perform well in the job, and how will you learn it?)
- Learn the company’s entire product offering
- Study the top 3 competitors’ product offerings to understand strengths/weaknesses
- Review training manual, and bring any questions to direct supervisor before the end of month 1
- Listen to at least 4 sales calls per week with senior team members
- Learn all industry terminology so I’ll be ready to communicate effectively with prospects and customers
- Meet with supervisor at the end of each week to discuss progress, questions, and results achieved
- Score 100% on the training manual examination on week 3
- Get coffee with each team member before the end of the first month
(Write your main focus for the next 30 day period here. You should still be learning, but the focus now shifts to taking what you’ve learned and using it in the real world. You want to start doing the work and learning through experience).
- Continue listening to 4 sales calls per week with senior team members
- Find team members to listen to at least 10 of my sales calls per week and provide feedback
- Meet with supervisor twice per week to ensure I continue learning and progressing as quickly as possible. This will include reviewing my sales call results and the tactics I’m using and working on as I listen to team members
- Take one free LinkedIn Learning course to improve my sales skills outside of work hours
- Conduct a minimum of 12 sales calls per day
- Convert one sales call per week into a customer
- Qualify leads and do thorough research of potential clients before calling, so that at least 80% of prospects I speak with are fully-qualified for our products
- Follow up with each potential prospect/lead within four business days of initial conversation
- Have at least two lunches with Supervisors or Team Leaders from other departments to grow my network and better understand how other areas of the organization work.
(Now you’ll want to show that you’re ready to produce at a high level and be a valuable member of the team. Your learning is never fully done, but this section should talk far less about learning, and really focus on demonstrating what you’ll DO for the employer after 90 days on the job.)
- Meet with supervisor once per week to track progress and continue learning sales tactics
- Conduct a minimum of 25 outbound sales calls per day
- Convert 4 sales calls per week into customers
- Qualify leads and do thorough research of potential clients before calling, so that at least 90% of prospects I speak with are fully-qualified for our products
- Ask for referrals after each completed sale, and/or after determining a sale is not going to occur. Goal: Obtain five qualified referrals per week and contact each referral within 24 hours.
- Join the gym and go every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for one hour minimum.
You can alter this example however you want. This is just one way to set up your 30-60-90 day plan for a job interview.
If you invest the time into creating a plan like this, it will make you stand out and will boost your chances of receiving a job offer.
And once you’ve created a template for yourself, you can re-use it for multiple interviews by changing the basic details to match each job.
The best time to mention your 90-day plan is at the beginning of the interview.
As you sit down, mention that you brought it by saying something like this:
“By the way – I put together a 90-day plan demonstrating some of the ideas I had for what I could accomplish in the first 3 months in the role. Whenever you think it fits well into the conversation, I’d love to show you some of what I was thinking.”
Now they’re immediately impressed with your preparation and effort, and they can decide whether they want to look at it immediately or discuss your 90-day plan later in the interview.
Either way, you won’t have to constantly think about finding the right to mention it, and you’ll make a fantastic first impression to begin your interview.
The steps and free template above involve some work, so you may be thinking, “Is it really worth creating my 30-60-90-day plan for my interview?”
In case you’re on the fence, here’s one of the biggest benefits that you may not have realized.
Creating your plan doesn’t just show hiring managers you’re motivated and ready to hit the ground running.
It also better prepares you for the interview, and for responding to all of the questions that they’re planning on asking you.
You can’t create a 90-day plan without researching the team and company, reviewing the job description, etc.
So you’re going to have a big advantage throughout the interview in terms of showing your new manager that you grasp the role and know what’s needed in the first 30 days, 60 days, and beyond.
You’ll be able to ask better and more unique questions in the interview, too. While other candidates are asking simple questions like, “What is the company’s mission?” or, “What are the typical working hours?” you can ask advanced questions like:
“As mentioned in my 90-day plan, I’d like to be able to contribute <key goal> within the first 60 days. To do that, I’ll need to absorb as much information as possible in my first month. Can you share a bit about what type of training is provided to new hires, and what type of feedback I’d get from my new manager and team as I learn the fundamentals in those first 30 days?”
The bottom line is:
By creating a 90-day plan for your job interview, you’ll not only impress the hiring manager with your effort, but you’ll also be much better prepared for the interview as a whole so that you can land a new job faster.
Employers will see that you’re focused on being a high performer when starting a new job and that you’re already well-informed about the role and their needs and ready to contribute at a high level as soon as you’re hired. This will impress any hiring manager.
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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