When interviewing for a job, one question that is sure to come up is going to be about career goals. Whether it’s asking about them directly, or the ever-popular “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, you’re going to have a chance to communicate to your prospective employer about your big career goals.
But how can you do it? What’s the perfect way to let your (hopefully) future boss know about your big plans and dreams? There’s no failsafe way, of course. But here are a few things to keep in mind.
How To Communicate Big Career Goals In An Interview
The most important thing to think about is why the employer is asking this standard question in the first place. He or she wants to find out how aware you are of your own ideas and goals, as well as whether you have the ability to make a plan and stick to it – and to see how that plan fits in with the company’s own goals.
You should have an answer to both iterations of the question – overall career goals and the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” version – ready to go when you walk in. For the long-term version, break your answer up into sections – have a short, medium, and long-term component to your answer.
And while your answer doesn’t have to imply that you will stay at this current company forever and ever, it is not a good idea to make it sound like you’re using them as a stepping stone to somewhere else. As the website Big Interview points out, training people is expensive and tough in the best of circumstances, and employers don’t want to think they’re going to have to do it again shortly after hiring you.
To that point, your answer should be “employer-centered” – that is, think of how your answer relates to what can help the company. They are going to want someone who is good at planning, can solve problems, and can think clearly about thorny issues. Your answer, if possible, should reflect all of that.
When it comes to communicating big career goals in an interview setting, one other thing to remember is to resist the urge to be specific. For most other interview questions, you want to avoid speaking in generalities. However, for this one, you are in a little bit of a tricky situation. If you are considering multiple career paths, you don’t necessarily want to lie, but you also don’t want to advertise that fact. It’s likely that you also don’t know enough about the company to convincingly fit your career path into how the company does things. So you’re less likely to run into trouble on either account if you keep things general.
Overall, if you treat this question (whichever variation of it you get) with care and thoughtfulness, you should have no problems. Think about what you would want to hear if you were on the other side of the interview, and get close to that, while also not lying about what you really want out of the job. Good luck!