This is a tough question. Some answers can make you sound weak or indecisive, while variations of “I’d leave it just as it is,” especially without a good explanation, indicate someone who goes through life without much thought or care for their direction or goals.
Three keys to this question are:
• Pick a key turning point or missed opportunity
• Connect it to actions being taken to make the change
• Provide examples
For instance, maybe you changed careers later in life.
“I like where my life is right now, but I do wish I had gotten involved in this profession right from the start. I spent some years going from job to job, career to career, but once I got involved in this career, got some experience and took some classes, I started achieving worthwhile things. For example, being able to impact a bottom line by saving my company $100,000 by outsourcing design work really felt good.”
There are a lot of other good answers, based of course on what really happened.
“I think I got onto a management track too early, based on the needs of former employers. Not that I didn’t enjoy it or didn’t do a good job, but I could have done a better job if I had spent some time on the line. That’s what a few years ago I started rolling up my sleeves and doing some of the work myself. Seeing things from other people’s perspective is important, as is knowing the every day concerns of all the different tasks in the department.”
“I don’t think I’m as good a communicator as I could be. I’m taking communications classes and I’ve really come a long way. I could never speak in public before, but now I give monthly business seminars at the Jr. College to hone my communications skills.”
If you wouldn’t change anything, give an explanation that leaves you sounding perceptive and thoughtful.
“I guess I could go back to a lot of decisions and change them, in retrospect doing one thing rather than another looks better. But who knows, where’s the proof that turning left on this day would have been better than turning right? I’m happy with my life, personally and professionally, and I’m continuing to grow. Without all my decisions and experiences I wouldn’t be who I am. I’d leave it alone.”
This job seeker came up with a great answer. “I wouldn’t change anything in the past, I’d change something in the future, on this job. So give me the chance to make that happen. Hire me.”