Tough Interview Question - What goals do you have in your career?

What goals do you have in your career?

Similar interview questions:
What direction are you seeking to take with your career?
What are you seeking to accomplish in your career
What would you like to have said about you at your retirement party?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is seeking to get past the here-and-now to understand what plans, if any, you have made for the progression of your career. Many job seekers are unprepared for this question, since it is focused on the future. The interviewer can establish how committed you are to the career vs. it just being a job for you by how you answer this question.

The best approach to answering this question:
Focus on the near term, covering the next two years. You can state broader goals of longer-term aspiration, but they should be mid-career goals, not end-of-career goals. For example, you should not state that you want to be President of the company one day (or any VP-level or above role, unless you are already at a Director level). While you might think that will define you as being big picture focused, most interviewers will view it as a level of expectation which likely cannot be met. So in spite of being able to do the job for which you are interviewing, you may be bypassed due to the fear on the part of the employer that they will not be able to meet your longer-term expectations for career growth. Keep it near term and keep it reasonable.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"In the near term, I am seeking to complete my certification coursework and the related work requirements, which would be in alignment with this role. Completing that as my near term goal will prepare me to take on expanded roles and responsibilities in the future, if and when they become available."

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"In the near term, I would like to develop myself to become the best _____ possible, learning as much as I can about the role and about how I can best serve the needs of the department and the company. In the longer-term, I would like to become a subject matter expert in an area of greatest need within my role. I would like to develop to the point that I become that go-to person whom others rely upon for the most current information. And eventually I would like to become a lead and mentor to help others developing in their respective roles."

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Whoo boy, good question. Well, frankly, I just try to get through each day one day at a time. And for today, my goal is just to get through all of these interviews in one piece. I'm probably going to go out with my friends afterward for a celebration drink. And if I get a job offer, watch out, there is gonna be a PAR-TEE!"

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these Fifty Standard Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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