A career goal is a statement of your career aspirations and future plans, it states what you want to achieve in your job, and it helps guide decisions about who to work for. A good interview answer to “What are your goals?” will show you are a good fit for the company and that you’re serious about their job long-term. When a prospective employer asks about your goals, they are asking for assurance that you will be reliable, motivated, and will remain committed to the company in the long run.
Let’s dive right into some example answers, and later look at some tips and mistakes to avoid with this job interview question.
10 Sample Answers to “What Are Your Career Goals?”
Example #1: Getting an Entry-Level Position as a New Graduate
I chose my area of study because I really want to work in this field, and my interest grew stronger as my course progressed. Since completing my college degree, I have been looking for an opportunity to convert the theoretical knowledge I have learned into practical skills and to develop professional experience that will grow my value to the company.
One of my short-term goals is to get up to speed and become a contributing member of the team quickly, and I would look to undertake further training or development to increase my productivity and value. Long-term, I want to increase my subject knowledge in the business, and in three to five years, when an opportunity is available in the company, I will apply for advancement to a higher position.
Example #2: Building Skills in a New Industry/Career Transition
My goal for this career transition is to develop new skills and experiences that will help me to develop professionally. I’m excited to learn more about the industry, expand my professional network, and contribute my knowledge and skills to support the success of the team. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues and developing innovative solutions to achieve our goals.
Example #3: Becoming an Expert in Your Field
My goal is to become an expert in my field. I want to be able to provide insights and analysis that can help my company grow and succeed. I’m also interested in continuing to learn and grow as a professional, so I’m always looking for opportunities to improve my skills. Ultimately, I want to be a valuable member of my team and contribute wherever I can.
Example #4: Improving Your Value to the Business
One of my career goals is to improve my value to the business. I want to be a valuable asset and contribute as much as possible. I’m also looking to develop new skills and grow professionally. Ultimately, I want to make a positive impact on the company and contribute to its success.
Example #5: Continuing to Build Professional Soft Skills
I want to develop my professional soft skills. I believe that by strengthening my communication and problem-solving abilities, I can become an even more effective member of any team. Additionally, I am passionate about continuing to learn and grow as an individual, so I plan to take advantage of the many professional development opportunities that will be available to me. Ultimately, I want to be in a position where I can make a positive difference in the world and contribute value to my organization.
Example #6: Becoming More Efficient in Achieving Results
My career goals are to increase my efficiency and productivity. I want to be able to do more in less time so that I can focus on the things that matter most to the company. I also want to continue learning and developing new skills so that I can keep up with the latest trends and changes in my field. Ultimately, I want to be a valuable asset to my company and contribute as much as possible towards its success.
Example #7: Expanding Your Book of Business or Customer Base
My career goals are to continue growing and developing my skills in sales, with the ultimate goal of becoming a high-performing salesperson. I am also interested in expanding my customer base and building long-term relationships with clients. By continuing to learn and grow, I hope to provide value to both my current and future employers.
Example #8: Seeking Opportunities for a Leadership Role
My long-term career goal is to work my way up through the ranks and eventually become a leader in my field. I am interested in seeking out opportunities to gain experience in leadership positions so that I can hone my leadership skills and develop a track record of success. I believe that organizational success comes from the continuous growth and development of its employees, and I am eager to contribute to this process.
Example #9: Seeking Opportunities for Management Experience
My career goal is to seek out opportunities for management experience. I believe that experience in a management position is the best way to learn and develop the skills necessary to be an effective leader. I am also interested in continuing to grow and learn as a professional and believe that management experience will give me the opportunity to do that.
Example #10: Getting Promoted
My career goals include progressing my position within my current organization and gaining promotion opportunities. I am also interested in continued learning and professional development. I want to be able to contribute value to my team and organization and continue making a positive impact.
5 Tips for Delivering an Amazing Interview Answer
- Don’t panic or rush your response. If you need a moment to think, a good idea is to say something like: “That’s a very good question, can I have a moment to think about it?”
- Don’t over-talk. The best answers will do three things:
- Provide a short-term goal for this position.
- Provide a long-term goal with the company.
- Contain a statement of your learning or development objective.
- Be realistic. Your answer should be something that you can achieve with your current skills and knowledge. It should also be honest, don’t lie about a career goal just to get a job; you and your employer will be disappointed.
- Remain professional. Interview questions are about your professional life and future career goals, not your personal goals. Answer in the context of the company and your career aspirations.
- Be confident and have good body language. You want the hiring manager and your prospective employer to be confident in your answer and in your ability to achieve what you say you will. To make sure they are confident in your abilities, you must demonstrate confidence in your answer and in your body language.
5 Mistakes to Avoid
- Being unprepared. Practice answering common interview questions at home. You can guess likely questions based on the job description and search for example answers to practice. Being prepared will improve the quality of your responses and your confidence, and you will stand out from other job seekers. Even if a question is unexpected, don’t say “I have no idea” or “I have never thought about it,” ask for a few moments and think of a good answer.
- Being too vague. While it is important to not be too specific, also avoid answers that are too general. Non-specific answers may make you sound insincere or uncertain.
- Being unpunctual. Being unpunctual includes both being late and being too early. Punctuality is important. Being late to an interview is a red flag for employers as it shows you are unreliable. However, do not be too early either. Being too early can be socially awkward, and it looks like you are overcompensating for unreliability. Ideally, arrive 5-7 minutes earlier than your interview start time. You can wait outside down the street if you need.
- Unless an employer asks about salary, don’t mention it. You should know the approximate salary for your job already and it will be discussed if you are successful. However, if an employer does ask and you don’t know what to say, try a diplomatic response like: “Before we discuss my salary expectations, I’d like to learn more about the job role, the duties involved, and the team I will be working with. Can you please tell me what salary you are offering for the position?”
- Being poorly dressed. Being dressed incorrectly for an interview is a visual cue to any employer that you are not professional or have not properly researched the position. If you can’t manage your own appearance, a company won’t trust you to represent them. Also, be aware that being overdressed can be as bad as being underdressed. Dress for the role you are applying for. If you are unsure of the dress standard, a good default for men is:
- A good pair of business slacks or suit pants, a good, solid-color long-sleeve collared shirt (white or blue are common choices). Wear a professional-looking belt, leave your top collar button undone and carry a blazer or suit jacket over your arm.
- For women, a plain, solid-colored blouse with either pants or a professional skirt, there’s more room to accessorize with a neck scarf and/or modest jewelry. Alternately, consider a pant-suit as they are widely accepted from junior through to senior positions.
- Dressing in this way, you can be sure to always make the right impression.
To stand out in any job and get a job offer, you need to impress potential employers. It is common that job interview questions will ask about your career and professional goals. Of course you do not have a crystal ball, and maybe you don’t even have a five-year plan, but the different ways of answering this common question all share the same steps.
The best approach is to first provide a short-term goal that explains your motivation and immediate plan to produce value for the company. The logical next step is to discuss a long-term goal that demonstrates ambition, planning, and commitment. It should outline where you are, where you are going, how you plan to get there. And most importantly, it should explain why their job position will be an integral part of your long-term career goals. Done well, you will have removed any red flags and have shown you are a good fit for the job opportunity.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.