The best way to answer: “How is your new job?”

By Robert Half on 22 March 2023
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

You’ve been in your new role for sometime, and things are getting to feel familiar. It’s around this time that you’re pulled away — sometimes by your manager, other times by your HR manager, or perhaps even by colleagues — and asked the inevitable: “So, how is your new job? Are you settling in okay?”

Depending on how you are actually setting in, the unfiltered answer to these questions can fluctuate. However, there is a right way to answer this — regardless of whether or not you intend to stay with the company in the long run.

5 tips to answering “How is your new job?”

1. Consider who is asking you this

If it is your supervisor or your company’s HR director, chances are they want to know about how you are fitting in as well as where you see yourself going within the organisation. Now that you have had a chance to settle in within the company, it is possible that the answer to the latter has changed from when they asked you the same question during the hiring phase.

Related: How to answer: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years”

If this is coming from your supervisor or HR, consider your long-term goals within the company and within your career on the whole. If it is a colleague, however, simply aim to be concise and polite (but always positive) while answering.

2. Start with the positive and keep it upbeat

Irrespective of who is asking you how your new job is going, consider starting with what’s going well. To answer this question best, consider what you’ve enjoyed so far and what you have learnt.

3. Be honest, but diplomatic

Only 28% of Hong Kongers reported being happy at work according to a 2022 study. If you are unhappy in your new job, think about what, specifically, is the source of your unhappiness.

Perhaps the workload is considerably heavier than you anticipated or perhaps the deadlines are overwhelming you right now. Instead of criticising the role or office environment, consider whether this might be an opportunity to ask for help. For instance, you might tell your manager that you feel as though there is more work right now and ask them to help you with going about prioritising your to-do list. Alternatively, you can be curious and phrase it in an open-ended manner: “I noticed there’s been a considerable influx of work recently — is this a seasonal trend?”

None of this is to say you cannot be honest, just that there is a manner in which to approach the honesty you’re hoping to convey.

4. Think of your long-term goals and relationships while answering

These professional relationships are what will assist you in building your career along the way. Do you want to continue at this company in five years’ time? Are you curious about where you might go from your current role? Talk through where you are in this role so far, what you’ve enjoyed and challenges you’re learning to overcome, while using this question as an opportunity to feel-out possible next steps.

5. Remember, you don’t have to share everything

Naturally, it is important you don’t alienate or offend anyone when answering this question. Even if you don’t plan on working at the organisation for much longer, maintaining cordial professional relationships is a vital element in any career.

Related: 6 signs you are stuck in a dead-end job

What not to do when answering “How is your new job going?”

Don’t complain

“It really all is in the attitude,” says Robert Half Hong Kong Senior Division Director, Violet Chi. “Employees who are serious about staying with that their business for the long haul are able to articulate their needs and concerns without complaining. Complaining makes the complainer appear negative. Bringing up a solution to the current problem that you want to complain about, will help to end the negativity and turn the communication into a constructive discussion.”

“You’d be surprised at how many new employees sit down with me and start rambling off a list of things they dislike about their new job as it feels good when you get to let go of the dissatisfaction” adds Violet. "The next time you want to complain at work, remember to think twice before you talk and get ready with a solution in mind. That’s one very effective way to lift your reputation in the new company."

Don’t make this about others

Remember, this question benefits you, too. You have the opportunity to understand what is fully expected of you now that you’re settled into your new role, and you can gauge how your organisation’s values play out in real-time.

As we mentioned earlier, the key is keeping it positive; especially when you’re communicating your own needs, boundaries, or goals.

Related: What kind of relationship do you expect to have with your boss?

Don’t talk about your next steps

Lastly, do not tell anyone, including colleagues and workplace friends you have made, that you dislike your new job and are hoping to move elsewhere soon.

So, how is your new job going?

The first few months of a new job are often difficult. If you haven’t yet, take the time to reflect on how things have been going and what you might say if asked this question now or a week or month from now.

For more career development advice visit Robert Half’s Career Hub.

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