Just like people have basic needs in their personal lives to be happy, employees need the same in their professional lives. According to a LinkedIn report, 95% said they wouldn’t quit if they had a chance to learn and grow.

The truth is that career development conversations between managers and their employees rarely take place until it’s too late. Usually, the conversation finally happens when the employee has already decided to leave the company.

Also, research from Gallup shows that only one-third of employees feel their workplace fosters their growth. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of employees claim that they will leave their current jobs if they do not have room to advance in their careers.

There is, fortunately, a way out. You can inspire your employees and lead them constructively in a professional development dialogue when you ask the right questions. In this article, we provide some examples of career development questions you can ask employees (and yourself, if you are an employee) during career advancement meetings.

Why Do Career Development Questions Matter?

To illustrate the answer to this question, there is research that shows people leave their current jobs because they don’t have enough career development opportunities for them and efforts from the employer in this regard.

Therefore, by asking employees about their professional development, you demonstrate a real interest in their career advancement and professional growth, keeping valuable team members from leaving. Aside from that, asking career development questions and having career development conversations is not just about showing interest. You can also:

Encourage open communication

Actively engaging with employees on career development topics fosters open communication. Through this transparency, employers and employees build trust, fostering a positive culture where people feel comfortable expressing their concerns and desires.

Promote a positive company culture

Supporting career development initiatives contributes to a positive company culture. According to a survey, promoting “professional development opportunities” is one of the best methods to improve organizational culture. Generally, this demonstrates the organization’s commitment to its employees’ professional growth and well-being, as well as its collaborative and supportive work environment.

Enhance employee skills and competencies

Career development questions and answers can highlight areas where employees seek additional skills or training. This information allows employers to develop training programs and development opportunities to enhance the overall skills and competencies of the workforce.

Boost employee morale and productivity

Knowing their employer’s willingness to invest in their development can boost employee morale and motivation. This positive outlook often translates into increased productivity and a higher quality of work.

Facilitate talent retention

Employees who see a clear path for career development and growth within the organization are more likely to stay with the company. In turn, this lowers employee turnover and the costs that come with hiring and training new workers.

Strengthen succession planning

Understanding employees’ career aspirations by asking questions about career development also helps in succession employee planning. Thus, employers get a head start on identifying and grooming internal talent for future leadership roles.

What are Good Questions for a Career Development Discussion?

In light of the previous paragraph, scheduling one-on-one meetings with your employees to talk with them about their career goals is essential. During these meetings, meanwhile, always make sure that you ask the right questions. 

Most importantly, these should be questions without unfair practices or unconscious biases that discourage employees. Here are some tips that make a career development question more effective:

  • Open-ended questions. When it comes to career development inquiries, the best ones are open-ended so that people can give full, nuanced answers. With open, answer-driven questions, you will encourage thoughtful reflection and meaningful dialogue.
  • Role-related and objective-related questions. A reasonable inquiry to ask is one that pertains to the person’s present position, goals, and career stage. In this way, the discussion can help them think strategically and grow professionally.
  • Questions should match business goals. A good question establishes a connection between the individual’s aspirations and the organization’s broader goals. This alignment ensures that professional development contributes to the overall success of the company.
  • Questions should be future-oriented. Typically, practical questions have a forward-looking aspect, inviting the respondent to reflect on their future goals, skills, and contributions to the team. Taking this approach also encourages a proactive attitude toward career advancement.
  • A good question should lead to a practical solution. The best questions to ask for career development should lead to actionable insights after the talk. As such, they should empower both employees and employers to determine specific career steps, goals, and development plans.

5 Questions For Employees’ Self-reflection Before the Career Development Talk

If you want your one-on-one meetings with your direct report to be more productive, one approach is to send out a prompt asking them about their goals and background before the meeting. Here are some questions you can send to your team member to help them prepare for development talks:

  1. Where am I right now? Make a list of your daily responsibilities and any other projects or priorities you have. Is there an aspect of this work that energizes you or drains you? Where do you feel most confident?
  2. What feels most useful? Take a moment to reflect on your specific contributions and achievements. How does your current position contribute to the long-term success of the team and company?
  3. What do I enjoy most about my role? Make a table with columns “enjoy” and “have difficulty with.” What are the tasks or projects that motivate and energize you? Also, have there been any challenges or setbacks in your career recently?
  4. What are my career goals? Briefly describe where you see yourself in the short term (1-2 years) and long-term (5-10 years) in the company. Is the company’s mission in sync with your goals?
  5. What new skills or knowledge do I want to acquire? Research and think about the five things you should do to stay competitive. Are there opportunities to expand or redefine your role?

30 One-on-one Questions About Career Development

Career Development Questions Examples For Entry-level Specialists

  1. Which of your latest accomplishments are you most proud of?
  2. Do you have any short-term and long-term career goals? 
  3. To achieve your goals in your current position, do you feel you need additional support or resources?
  4. What can we do to align your responsibilities with those goals throughout your career?
  5. What kind of career trajectory would you like to pursue here?
  6. How can we, as a company, help you get there?
  7. What kinds of projects or assignments do you find most fulfilling?
  8. Do you have everything you need to perform your job well?
  9. What is your preferred way of getting feedback on your work?
  10. Is there anyone in the company that you would like as a mentor? 

Career Development Questions For Mid-Career Professionals

  1. What are your professional aspirations for the next 6–12 months, and what motivates you to pursue them?
  2. What are some things you can do more of, less of, or the same of to get closer to your goals?
  3. What projects or tasks do you find most challenging and fulfilling?
  4. Where do you think your skills would add the most value? 
  5. How do you see your role evolving within the company?
  6. What specific skills or experiences would you like to develop to support that evolution?
  7. Are there specific resources or programs you believe would be beneficial for your growth?
  8. In what ways can we enhance communication and collaboration within the team?
  9. Are there leadership or mentoring opportunities you would like to look into? How can we help you get ready to take on more responsibility within the team?
  10. How can the company better support your career development?

Questions to Ask Senior Leaders About Career Development

Engaging in meaningful career development discussions with senior-level executives promotes their continued success. Also, it helps to make sure that everyone is working toward the same goals and has a lasting contribution to the leadership of the company. 

Here are five career development questions employers can ask senior-level executives, along with explanations of their significance.

  1. In retrospect, what professional accomplishment would you like to claim as your proudest moment?
  2. Do you agree with the development plan we’ve set out early on? Is there anything you would change?
  3. How can the company and HR team help and amplify these collaborative efforts in your career development plan?
  4. Upon becoming CEO of this company tomorrow, what would be your initial move?
  5. Are there cross-functional collaborations or interdepartmental initiatives you find particularly valuable?
  6. Considering the evolving business landscape, what skills or knowledge areas do you believe will be crucial for senior executives in your role in the coming years?
  7. How can we, as a company, support your development in these areas?
  8. Considering your current role, are there specific areas where you feel you could benefit from executive coaching or mentorship?
  9. What qualities would you value in a mentor or coach?
  10. Are there any industry-specific conferences or forums that you think would be good for your career growth? 

10 Tips on How to Ask the Right Questions

Even though we have provided some great examples of questions up top, let me give you a few hints so you can have a fruitful conversation with the right questions.

For example, a good rule of thumb is to ask questions that will benefit an employee’s career and help them achieve their goals. In addition to these, here are some other tips for asking good career development questions:

  • Avoid closed-ended questions; better make them more open
  • Adopt questions for career development for each person, their level, and role responsibilities  
  • Be supportive and provide positive feedback; emphasize your commitment to supporting each member’s success
  • Focus on the strengths and aspirations of the team members 
  • Help your employees align their goals with the strategic objectives of your company
  • Think about how to be helpful for career-advancing your employees
  • Encourage people to think about both the near and far future by asking them to describe how they plan to achieve their goals 
  • Give recognition to achievements to boost confidence and motivation for future endeavors
  • Create questions that encourage self-reflection to highlight strengths and areas for improvement
  • Maintain a constant record of each employee’s professional progress with Beams.ai

Track the Progress of Career Development Endeavors with Beams.ai

Ultimately, the key to fostering growth and satisfaction within your team and reducing turnover lies in understanding your employees’ career development perspectives. Take the first step towards a meaningful and goal-oriented career development conversation with this list of questions from our guide.

Instead of waiting a year to see how your employees feel about their professional development, it is smart to check in with them frequently to gauge their sentiment rather than once a year.

One reliable ally that can help you evaluate your team’s moods is Beams.ai, a platform designed for employee engagement and recognition. Team leaders can gauge employee well-being and performance using Beams’ pulse surveys, while analytics offer precise statistics for informed decision-making. 

Also, using feedback reports from the platform as a reference can help you refresh and prepare the right questions for a new career development talk in the future!

For more engaging, productive, and inspiring career development, book a free demo or try for free today!