What to Say When I'm Asked What My Career Objectives Are
Hiring managers are trained to enter interviews armed with questions aimed at finding out about your work ethics, trustworthiness and motivation. To ace the interview and impress the recruiter, you also need to be well-prepared. Questions about your career objectives and future plans are often worded in a variety of ways, so you should have a number of responses prepared for the topic.
A common, open-ended question asked by recruiters is “tell me about yourself.” You want to have a one- to two-minute answer prepared for this questions that should include your career objectives. Career website Indeed suggests you consider the following questions as you prepare an answer ahead of the interview:
- What am I good at?
- What do I want to be good at in the future?
- What do I most enjoy about my current job (or my studies in school?)
- What's the work I'm most proud of?
- What opportunities are likely to be open in the future?
A common interview question is this one: Where do you see yourself in five years? Interviewers use this question about future plans to gauge your maturity and your thought processes. In this question, they are trying to glean what is most important to you. You should develop a response that includes continuing education to play a bigger role in the company or about your determination to move into management or become the top salesperson in the firm.
The career advice experts at GlassDoor give an example that demonstrates a clear goal, an understanding of company culture and benefits to the individual as well as the organization:
"My five year goal is to master my position and move into a management role within the department. On your website, there is an outline of the company's personalized training approach, which I feel can help me learn and grow. I look forward to preparing for new challenges and opportunities within the company."
When asked about future plans, you are likely to face questions about your short-term goals. You may think that your short-term goal is to get this job, but don’t say that out loud. Jobs website Monster suggests statements similar to these to answer questions about short-term goals:
- I'm looking forward to developing a new set of skills.
- This is an opportunity to break into a new industry.
- I plan to earn a certificate to demonstrate my knowledge and commitment to the field.
- I want to gain experience in leadership and team-building.
Past Experience and Future Plans
Some recruiters may delve into your career objectives by asking about your employment history to see if you follow a well-thought-out objective or just jump from job to job. When asked how long you expect to stay in the job if you’re given the opportunity, you can refer to your past and explain that you stick with a job as long as you believe you are making a positive contribution. Questions about why you left your last job also are used to gather information about your future objectives. Use these questions to expand on your need to grow to meet your career objectives. Even if you were laid off, you can say “I’m relieved to move on and have the opportunity to reach my full potential with an excellent company like this.”
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."