How To Answer "What Are Your Long-Term Career Goals?"

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 December 2021

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

No matter your profession, setting long-term goals can help you focus and advance your career. When you interview for a new job, you can often expect the hiring team to ask you to describe your long-term career goals. Thinking about your professional aspirations ahead of time can help you discuss them effectively and position yourself as a strong candidate for the job. In this article, we discuss long-term career aspirations and provide examples so you can formulate your own.

Why employers ask about long-term career goals

In most cases, interviewers want to know how ambitious and focused you are, and they also want to assess whether you are goal-oriented. Asking about your long-term career goals can help them gain insight into your work ethic and the plans you've made for your career.

Interviewers also want to assess whether you are a good match for the job and understand how you align with the company's values and goals. If your long-term career goals meet the needs of the position and the company, you may have a better chance of getting the job.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

How to answer "What are your long-term career goals?"

When discussing your long-term career goals with interviewers, prepare your answer ahead of time. Follow the steps below to discuss your aspirations effectively:

  1. Discuss relevant aspirations.

  2. Outline a plan for achieving your goals.

  3. Focus on how you can benefit the company.

  4. Highlight your achievements.

  5. Match your goals with your experience.

1. Discuss relevant aspirations

You may have a long list of long-term career goals. When talking with an interviewer, however, you should always plan to discuss aspirations that are relevant to the job in question. By providing an answer that relates to the job opening, you help the interviewer understand how your career goals align with the company's objectives so they can determine whether you are a good match for the role.

2. Outline a plan for achieving your goals

Interviewers typically want to hear about more than just your aspirations. They also want to know how you plan to achieve your goals. Briefly outline the steps you are planning to take to reach your goals, such as enrolling in graduate school, taking online classes to learn a new tool or participating in leadership seminars. Provide a general timeline so the hiring team understands when you intend to accomplish your goals.

Related: 24 Examples of Professional Goals You Can Set To Improve Your Career

3. Focus on how you can benefit the company

Your aspirations may be personal, but they are likely to resonate better with interviewers if they include the company's goals, too. If you know that the employer prefers to cultivate talent and promote from within, consider discussing your preference for growing in your role and taking on new challenges. If you understand that the organization strongly values teamwork, emphasize your interest in working closely with teams.

Related: 10 Tips for Being More Goal-Oriented at Work

4. Highlight your achievements

As you outline what you plan to accomplish, take the opportunity to highlight what you have already achieved, as long as your accomplishments relate to your long-term goals. If you plan to obtain a graduate degree, you might explain that you already have a bachelor's degree from a prestigious university. If you want to move into management, you could reiterate that you currently have a supervisor role.

5. Match your goals with your experience

Try to focus your long-term goals on the next five to 10 years of your career, as you can develop a realistic action plan for goals in this time frame. If you are applying for an entry-level job, becoming a team leader or mastering key skills might be appropriate goals. If you are applying for a management position, aspiring to be an executive or a thought leader in five or 10 years could be more realistic.

Related: How to Write an Action Plan to Help You Achieve Your Goals

Long-term career goals examples

When an interviewer asks about your long-term career goals, be prepared to keep your answer clear and concise while providing helpful details. Use the following examples to prepare for your job interview.

Example 1: Mastering a skill

Discussing your desire to learn a skill related to your job can position you as a person who seeks self-improvement, which can make you stand out from the competition. Try to focus on a relevant skill and explain how you plan to master it.

Example: “In the next five years, I aspire to become a data analytics expert. I have already taken basic online courses, and I plan to earn certifications from the major data analytics software vendors to demonstrate my knowledge. I think that this expertise would help me advance as a marketer and contribute more to the company.”

Read more: How To Master a Skill (Plus Tips)

Example 2: Moving into management

Explaining that you want to pursue a leadership position can make you look ambitious, which can be an asset to many companies. Try to discuss what you have done to prepare for a management role and why you believe you are ready for the next step.

Example: “I already hold a team supervisor role, and I want to move into management in the next five years. My current role has given me a lot of leadership experience, and I have enrolled in a leadership seminar to learn how to be a better manager. In 10 years, I would like to apply my management experience and take on an executive role.”

Read more: How To Develop Leadership Skills and Become a Great Manager

Example 3: Changing careers

If you are interviewing for a job in a new field, you may need to explain how your background has prepared you for this new role and what you would bring to the new position.

Example: “For the past two years, I have been positioning myself to transition from sales to marketing. I have taken several online marketing courses and am certified in two major marketing platforms. I think that my relationship-building and critical thinking skills will also translate easily to marketing.”

Read more: How To Change Careers

Explore more articles