Debugging the "What are your career goals" question

So you've finally landed a job interview with a prestigious organization in your field. Congratulations. The cover letter and resume were hard enough, but now it's time to undertake the most important step in any hiring process—the sit down. One of the most standard questions that will almost surely arise deals with goals. This is different from "where do you see yourself in 5 years" because it's at once more immediate, and broader. You have to articulate to the interviewer in few words why you do what you do, and what's your purpose. We can help you. It starts with demystifying the question.

Sample answers that tell the whole truth

The question can be daunting because it's so broad. It assumes that you know where you're going, and suggests that you have ideas on how to get there. Our suggestion is to do as we do with all questions: break it down. This time, we're going to break down your response, rather than the question itself. How do you illustrate what your goals are without sounding too zealous? How do you structure a response that shows that you have realistic goals in the first place? How do you respond without rambling? Well, the latter consideration is easy to overcome if you rehearse your response. Always leave room for improvisation, because HR people have an eye for bad acting. But the way to illustrate your goals is to condense them into parts. For an answer, you might say something like "I believe that business methodologies can be co-opted for personal goals in that it's crucial to solve smaller goals in order to achieve the larger ones." This demonstrates your business acumen while simultaneously setting the stage for a more in-depth response.

"What are your career goals" answers to elaborate upon

Now that you've demonstrated your understanding of how to go about achieving your goals in the interview (namely, by incrementally reaching one after the other), now it's time delve into what those goals are. We recommend a set of goals that reflect various aspects of a professional career. First, you need to have a goal to learn more. Second, you need to have the goal of being relevant and bringing something unique to your field. And finally, you should have a goal related to wider life. For answer examples, the first can be described as "I want to attain advanced education or certificates in mine and related fields." The second may be, "I want to create something that sets me up as an industry-recognized expert." And the third could potentially be, "I want to find the perfect balance between work and life so that my happiness is a boon to my work."

Getting specific on what are your career goals

To round out a successful job interview on such a question, you can't stop at the overarching goals that drive you, which we've delineated above. You must get specific. If those are long-term goals, can you create several short-term goals that work toward achieving them? For example, to attain advanced education, you might set the short-term goal of attending more conferences in your field. Employers like to hear that you want to be involved, because your attendance carries their company name. Creating something to be considered an expert might come with the short-term goal of "developing more sales or productivity," to in turn gain more exposure, experience, case studies, etc. As you can see, we know how to prepare for an interview. We have more to say, so get in touch with us soon.

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