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4 Ways to Answer Interview Questions About Career Goals

Career goals are those realistic ambitions you have regarding your career path, your skills, your education, and your disciplines. Frequently asked as “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, this is a question that results in a wealth of information that could determine if you're in the right place. In preparing for your interview, it’s best to have defined goals that align with those of the company you’re interviewing with. In this article, we’ll provide you with short- and long-term career goals interview answers.

How to answer, “What are your future career goals?”

While this is how this question is most commonly asked, your interviewer may approach it in a more specific way. Here are a few examples:

  • What are you looking for in your next position?

With this question, companies are checking to see if you share their vision of the role and if your aspirations show that you’re interested in being in the position in the longer term. Do your research and reread the job listing so you can elaborate on your goals that match those of the company.

Sample answer: “The company’s mission talks about making its services accessible to those in less fortunate areas. This is something I feel strongly about and I’m eager to share the skills I developed as a strategist with the Peace Corps to jointly achieve this goal.”

  • Do you plan to pursue further education and, if so, in what field?

Here, the hiring manager is testing a few elements: 

1) Are you motivated to learn? 

2) Will your qualification benefit the company?

3) Will you be leaving the position as soon as you’re qualified?

Explain the added value any potential qualification might bring and how you would balance studies with work commitments. 

Sample answer: “To complement my Business Management degree, I’d like to complete my MBA to expand my knowledge base while preparing me to take on more leadership roles. With the availability of part-time classes, I’ll be able to manage both working and studying efficiently.”

  • What skills would make you better in your current role?

This question is similar to the previous one, except here the skills you mention must benefit the position you’re applying for. Anything too disconnected from the role may give the impression that you plan to change careers.

Sample answer: “As a manager, there are often opportunities to coach and mentor members of my team. I’d like to develop this skill so I can help my staff see their potential while guiding them on how to reach it.”

  • Would you prefer to become an expert in your field or would you consider taking on other disciplines? Why?

Either answer is acceptable, provided you can elaborate on your choice. Becoming an expert will see your stature rise while being a jack-of-all-trades increases your versatility.

Sample answer: “My career began at a start-up where I took on many roles as the business grew. I’ve learned that I’m able to adapt well and that I have a diverse skill set. I’m always eager to learn yet I can also take on leadership roles in several disciplines.”

Final Thoughts

Recruiters look out for red flags in the hiring process – these can include  employees who lack aspirations, making them appear disengaged from their position. Unrealistic career goals may indicate that you don’t understand what a role entails and canned answers sound inauthentic. Click here for more insight into answering “What are your career goals?”, and continue your research and interview preparation with the best interview questions asked.

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