How To Answer Questions About Career Goals In A Job Interview

Asking questions regarding your future career is very common for your interviewers when they want to find out the plans you have for your career. If this question is thrown at you out of the blues, it may be difficult for you to think about the future within few seconds coupled with the interview pressure.

That is more reason why you should practice on this question before the interview. So how do you answer questions about your career goals? Below you will find more information that will give you a head start!

Why do interviewers ask questions about your career goals

  • By answering this question, they will know your long- term plans and visions
  • This will help them figure out whether you plan on staying with them for a longer time or you plan on leaving as soon as you get an opportunity
  • To know you better and understand if your career goals and aspirations match what their company has to offer
  • They want to know if you have a motivated personality and if you are goal-oriented.

Learn more about setting career goals and how to answer questions about your career goals!

Different ways interviewers present career goal questions

If you have been going for interviews and have practiced interviews questions, you will notice that questions about your career goals are very common and come in different formats such as:

  • ‘What are your career goals?’
  • ‘What can you say are your future plans if you finally get this job?’
  • ‘Where do you see yourself in the next five years?’
  • ‘What are your goals for the next five to ten years?’
  • ‘Describe your professional goals’
  • ‘What do you plan to achieve?’

Basically, all the questions above are used by the interviewer to gain more insight into your personal career goals, what motivates you, and how you see your future.

How to answer the interview question: ‘what are your career goals?’

The aim of the interviewers when they ask you most interview questions is to get to know you better, to know if you are a fit for the company. Therefore, all your responses should reaffirm that you are the best candidate for that position.

Research the company and the position you are applying for

Employers would want to hire employees that their career plans match with the company goals and that what the job has to offer is in line with your career goals. Therefore, when you visit the company website, go to their ‘About section’, check out for information about their goals, missions, new plans, and even their expansion. You might also reach out to someone that works there to get a first- hand information on the company goals and developments.

Start with discussing your short- term goals before you move to your long- term goals

It is easier to walk your way from the present or near future to a far one. You probably know your career goals at least in two years, go from there to where you want to be in five years and the next ten years. If you are not clear about that, now is a better time to think about that before your interview comes up.

Focus your answer on your career

Your career is just one part of your life: you have your marriage, relationships, family, personal life, etc. outside your work. One might be tempted to divert from the topic of discussion here, which is a career and delve into another aspect of life.

If you have a personal goal that is a line or matches an attribute that gives you an edge over others such as perfecting your writing skills, you shouldn’t hesitate to include it. Aside from that, it is advisable you focus on career-related goals such as the skills, qualities, and abilities you want to attain.

Discuss the steps you will take to achieve them

It is not enough to list the goals. Your interviewers would be more impressed to find out you already have plans on the ground to achieve your set goals. Therefore, you should explain the actions you will take to get to the career goals you mentioned.

You should talk about the skills you plan to improve on, the certification you plan to obtain and the training and seminars you plan to attend to better equip you to achieve those goals. Discuss this is in line with your job at the company and how it will help grow the company as well.

Discussing your career plan in this manner will show your interviewer that you have strong analytical and critical thinking skills.

Do not discuss salary

When discussing your career goals make sure you do not talk about salary, bonuses, and raises. You do not want to give them the idea that you are focusing on the money you will make rather than on the work or responsibilities you have to carry out. Employers won’t want to hire an employee whose goals are driven by money or personal gain.

Do not brag

Having goals for your future shows you have plans of things to achieve for yourself and for the company. Confidence is needed to drive home your points; however, confidence does not equate boasting. Your interviewers and those above will surely not find a response such as this funny: “I hope that in five years time, I will emerge the managing director of this company”.

Do not be too specific with your response

You should give some details about your future career but then you should not be too specific and keep your response brief. Delving into too many details can restrict you to only limited opportunities and make you look less flexible. Leave your answer broad and stress on more general goals such as; taking on certain responsibilities.

To give you more idea, here a few examples of tangible goals you can talk about:

  • Leadership / managerial roles
  • Expertise in a particular industry or field
  • Strong interpersonal relationship with clients
  • Developing new operational systems or processes
  • Becoming an expert at a particular skill or certain skill sets

A sample answer to questions about your career goals

‘My short-term goals are fairly simple. I want to further develop and use my communication and project management skills in this job. I’m focused on gaining as much experience as I can over the next years to eventually grow into a position that will allow me to continue to use these skills while also managing my own team.

I want to achieve these goals by working on different projects and on different teams. To be able to manage a team effectively, communication is key, and I look forward to taking on small leadership roles, eventually working my way up.

This opportunity is the right one for me since it’s the next step in my career that allows me to continue to grow as a professional. Furthermore, one of my key motivators is the ability to work with different coworkers from different departments, so this is especially exciting about this opportunity for me.’

Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Adaptability
  3. Admission
  4. Behavioral
  5. Career Change
  6. Career Goals
  7. Communication
  8. Competency
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Creative Thinking
  11. Cultural Fit
  12. Customer Service
  13. Direct
  14. Experience
  15. Government
  16. Graduate
  17. Growth Potential
  18. Honesty & Integrity
  19. Illegal
  20. Inappropriate
  21. Job Satisfaction
  22. Leadership
  23. Management
  24. Entry-Level & No experience
  25. Performance-Based
  26. Personal
  27. Prioritization & Time Management
  28. Problem-solving
  29. Salary
  30. Situational & Scenario-based
  31. Stress Management
  32. Teamwork
  33. Telephone Interview
  34. Tough
  35. Uncomfortable
  36. Work Ethic