When preparing for an interview, it is wise to arrange some example answers for tough questions. Interviewers may ask questions to discover how long you plan to stay with the company or what your future with them will look like.
So, I’ve decided to take an in-depth look at the best way to answer, “What are your career goals?”
What are Career Goals?
A career goal is an ideal position you will work in or the progression you see for yourself in your career. This does not only have to take into consideration the company or job position; it can also take into account the money you make or the team you work with.
It is a good exercise to write down your career goals. If you are unsure, then consider the lifestyle you would like to lead, your skills, jobs you have previously enjoyed or hated, and overall, your passions. Waking up every day excited for your job is unrealistic for most people, but you should not be dreading it either!
Setting your Career Goals
It has been proven time and time again that the old-school method of writing things down is a very effective technique. In fact, those who write down their career goals are more likely to achieve them!
But it can be overwhelming to see your dreams written down; they might seem too big or too far away but do not be disheartened! Break them down into smaller tasks; what do you hope to achieve by next year? How will that contribute to your ultimate goal?
Consider both your short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals should be achievable in 6-12 months and long-term in 5-10 years. So, consider writing down a 6-month, one-year, 5-year, and 10-year goal. This really allows you to focus on your career and carefully consider your options. You can even share them with a friend or colleague to motivate you to stay on track!
Answering in an Interview
You may think of your career goals as more of a personal goal, so why would potential employers be interested in them? Well, interviewers want to know how the job you are applying for will help you reach this goal and whether this lines up with their organization. No company wants to invest in training someone who will use them as a stepping stone to another company.
These types of questions are worded in many different ways, such as career goals, where do you see yourself in five years’ time? What do you hope to accomplish in this role? The outcome, however, is the same; the interviewer is trying to determine what your future in the company will be.
Preparing for the interview
Preparation is key. No matter how confident you are in an interview, the preparation you do beforehand will help you immensely. Preparing example answers for common interview questions will help you feel more confident and comfortable during the interview.
Therefore, learn the history and values of the company beforehand and, where possible, link these values to your own previous experience and career goals.
The most common mistake when answering this question is not being honest or realistic. If you apply for an entry-level job, the interviewer knows you will not be staying in that position for long, so make sure your answer is positive but truthful.
If you have just graduated yet apply for a position in your local grocery shop, the interviewer probably knows you will also be applying for degree-relevant jobs.
Most advice will direct you towards being vague about this answer, but that will also make you blend in with the rest of the interviewees. It is important your ambition shines through in this question, but it is a balancing act. Before attending the interview, really think about what your career goal is and then link how this job will help you achieve it.
You may want to win the world pie-eating championships, but that is not going to benefit the company you are applying to… unless it is a bakery! Your goal must be a professional goal that lines up with the company you are applying to or benefits them with the skills you will attain whilst pursuing it.
Career goals in an unconnected job
Firstly, even if the job you have applied for is not your dream job or even in your field of interest, you can still have goals relevant to it! Think of the bigger picture; an interviewer will know from your CV whether this job is in your field of interest, so if it is not, make sure you have a reason why you want it.
You may have previously been in a different sector, so make sure you have a positive reason for the switch. Limited opportunities or bad pay in your previous sector may be the reason for the switch, but that is not the only reason you picked this new sector! So, make a list of positive attributes you have that would make you a good fit for this company and build a goal with them.
When answering the question “what are your career goals,” state both a short-term and long-term goal. You can use the following example to structure your own answer but make it more personal. Remember to mention what you are actively doing to make this goal happen.
“I have been working to further develop my communication and leadership skills with the goal to take on a leadership role in the future. I have had experience managing small projects in my previous role, and I enjoyed the experience gained from them and the challenges that came with that.
In the future, I would like to work on larger projects and work through the different stages of project management from start to finish.”
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OK, back to today’s topic…
Hopefully, you now have some clear goals in mind and are feeling more prepared than ever to ace your next interview! Remember to be professional but also show some personality to allow yourself to stand out from the crowd as you confidently answer any interview question relating to your career goals.
The very best of luck in that next interview.