During an interview, one of the questions most often asked is about your career aspirations. Since not everyone answers this question the same way, you might need some help in figuring out how to answer it. Having a timeframe to contextualize your response will make you appear more authentic and less opportunistic. Recruiters are good at spotting the difference between someone who wants to do what you are asking them about, and someone who is just trying to impress.
When you are asked this question, the interviewers are looking to see if your goals are congruent with theirs and the company culture. They want to know if you have long-term potential at the company, or if you will move on as soon as a better opportunity comes along.
To answer the “what are your career aspirations” question effectively, you need to do three things:
Articulate your long-term career aspirations
Connect your aspirations to the company you are interviewing with
Make sure your aspirations are achievable
How do you describe your career aspiration?
Your career aspiration should be attainable, but also ambitious. It should be specific enough that the interviewer can understand what you are trying to achieve, but not so specific that it pigeonholes you into a certain role. Your response to this question should contain three elements:
- Your future goals:
- Skills you need to develop to reach those goals:
- Why those goals are important to you:
What do you want to achieve in your career?
Some people have a clear idea of what they want to do with their career, while others are still exploring their options. If you fall into the latter category, that’s okay – just be honest about it in your answer. The important thing is to show that you are actively thinking about your career goals and have a general direction that you want to move in.
Some examples of long-term career goals could be:
- Becoming a managing director or CEO of a company
- Moving into a more strategic or senior role within your organization
- Transitioning into a different industry
- Becoming an expert in your field
- Starting your own business
These are just a few examples there are many other options available.
What skills do you need to develop to reach those goals?
Achieving your long-term career aspirations will require you to develop new skills. The interviewer wants to know that you are aware of this and have a plan for how you will acquire the skills you need. You will need to demonstrate that you are committed to your professional development. When discussing the skills you need to develop, you could mention:
- Technical skills: If you want to move into a more strategic role, you will need to develop your technical skills so that you can understand the organization’s systems and processes.
- Leadership skills: If you want to become a managing director or CEO, you will need to develop your leadership skills so that you can inspire and motivate others.
- Communication skills: When you want to become an expert in your field, you will need to develop your communication skills so that you can share your knowledge
Reasons why you want to achieve those goals
Your goals should be more than just a job title or salary. They should be something that motivates you and gives your work meaning. The interviewer wants to know what drives you and why you want to achieve your goals. Some possible reasons why you want to achieve your career aspirations could be you want to:
- make a difference in your field/community
- be challenged and grow professionally
- be financially stable
- achieve a personal sense of accomplishment
- set an example for others
- help others achieve their goals
When interviewers ask about your career aspirations, they are usually trying to gauge whether you are a good fit for the job and the company. To answer this question effectively, you need to have a well-defined career goal and a plan for how you will achieve it. You also need to be able to articulate why your goal is important to you. By doing this, you will show the interviewer that you are committed to your professional development and that you have the potential to grow within the company.