Interview Questions About Your Career Plans and Aspirations
When you’re interviewing for a new job, recruiters will generally try to figure out if the job will be a good fit given your projected career path. You may encounter questions about how a particular position fits in with your career plan. This kind of question will also help a recruiter see whether or not you plan to stay at the company long-term, or hope to move on quickly.
How to Answer Interview Questions About Your Career Aspirations
The interviewer may simply ask why you are interested in the job or why you want to work at the company to extract this information, or they might ask a direct question like "How does this job fit in with your career plan?" Other ways this question may be phrased include:
Again, your interviewer's main goal with this question is to determine if you're a good fit — does this job make sense given your long-term career strategy? Will you stick around in the position for a reasonable amount of time? Are your ambitions reasonable, and in line with the company/industry? Develop your answer accordingly.
Consider Why You Want the Job
Before the interview, think carefully about your career aspirations. Even if you do not have a specific career goal, you may have an industry you are interested in working in, or a set of skills you hope to develop. Then, reread the job listing, and think of ways in which the requirements and responsibilities of the job will prepare you for those goals. You will need to make a strong case for what appeals to you about the job for which you are interviewing, while also addressing your future aspirations.
Be careful how you frame your response if you are using this job as a stepping-stone to a higher level job within your career path. Make sure your time frame for occupying the initial job is sufficient to add value in that role. Generally, three to five years will make sense for most jobs.
What to Avoid
This type of question presents some potential pitfalls for candidates if they are not careful.
Avoid answers that place emphasis on salary, location, and even the company, since employers typically want a candidate who is well qualified for and motivated to pursue the job itself. Keep the focus on your career — now is not the time to share ambitions related to your family or personal life.
Perhaps you're unsure of your precise career plans (this step-by-step guide to setting career goals can help!). That can make forming an answer challenging. If that's the case, focus on the skills you hope to use as part of your career.
Examples of the Best Answers
- I am looking for a way to transfer my writing, media relations, event planning skills, and public relations expertise to a position within healthcare. I am fascinated by the trends in healthcare and have a family background in medicine so the prospect of working for a hospital is very appealing to me. Ultimately, I have an interest in managing a communications operation at a hospital but I see that as a few years down the road after I have further honed my skills.
- I have always loved sales and thrived on the excitement of landing new clients and competing with my peers. Your position is attractive since it would provide the opportunity for me to enhance relationships with current major clients while also pursuing new customers. I want to stay in sales for the foreseeable future. My goal will be to become one of the leading account managers on your staff, recognized as a product expert with a strong track record for satisfying customers.
- As you can see from my background, I have spent the past three years since graduate school as an HR generalist. During this time, I have enjoyed my work in recruiting the most, so I am looking to specialize in the employment arena with a company like yours that has a large recruitment operation. Ultimately, maybe 3 - 5 years down the road, I would love to direct a recruiting operation at a major company, as long as I could keep my hands in some of the activities I enjoy, like interviewing candidates.
More Job Interview Questions and Answers
Interview Questions and Answers
Typical job interview questions and sample answers.
Interview Questions to Ask
Questions for candidates for employment to ask the interviewer.
My Dream Job
A few years back I was hanging out with some good friends. We had finished with dinner, and were just sitting around in the living room chatting.
But, something kept happening. When one of us would start to speak, the others would interrupt with the conclusion to that person’s story.
It was then that it occurred to us. We knew each other too well.
What do you talk about when you literally have nothing new to tell each other?
As a solution to this problem, we invented a game: The Game for People Who Know Each Other Too Well.
We went around said the worst job for each person, and the best. The only rule was that we didn’t use anyone’s actual career.
When it got to me, it was pretty quickly determined that I should never be a waitress, because that involves remembering to do things in a timely manner, and not dropping or breaking dishes.
This was a fair assessment. I would be terrible at that.
I was holding my breath for the best job portion. Everyone else had several people respond with extremely fitting jobs.
I was in my early twenties with no real ideas on my future, and actually did need some career advice, even if it came in the form of a ridiculous game my friends just made up.
But, when the time came for my best job, everyone just got quiet and stared blankly. No one could think of anything.
Eventually, one friend eagerly spoke up.
“I’ve got it!” she said. “You really like sitting and drinking coffee, and talking to strangers, and telling long stories. I know the perfect thing for you.”
“What?” I was on the edge of my seat. Those were my favorite things.
Everyone laughed, then wholeheartedly agreed that I would make an excellent old person.
I reminded them that Old Person isn’t a career, nor is it something that I can really pursue at my age.
Secretly though, I had to agree. Being a retired old person really is my dream job. I kind of can’t wait.
I just have to find something to fill the thirty or forty years until then.