Interview Question: What Are Your Career Aspirations?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 July 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.

Most interviewers ask candidates questions about their career aspirations. Understanding your career aspirations and being able to relate them to each position you apply for may increase your chances of being hired. When preparing for an interview, consider how you would answer questions about your future goals. In this article, we discuss why interviewers ask "what are your career aspirations?" and provide examples of how to answer the question.

Related: How To Prepare for an Interview

Why employers ask "what are your career aspirations?"

Employers may ask you about your career aspirations to evaluate your personal career goals and see how they align with the organisation's goals and the responsibilities of the position. Your answer also helps them assess your level of commitment to your career and estimate how long you may stay with their organisation. Also, learning about your career aspirations may help an interviewer understand the reasons why you applied for this particular job.

Related: Interview Question: 'Why Should We Hire You?'

Examples of career aspirations

Many people develop their career aspirations based on what's most important to them. They may base their aspirations on factors like their ideal lifestyle, personal values or talents. Think about your interests and values to help you determine what your career aspirations are. Some examples of career aspirations include:

Achieving managerial success

Managerial success often refers to having a job that involves being responsible for large departments or projects. You may desire managerial success so that you can gain authority to make decisions or changes that impact the trajectory of an organisation. Expressing a desire to become a manager may appeal to an employer because it shows your hope to work at their organisation for a long time and have a desire to grow professionally or as a leader.

Becoming an expert

Becoming an expert in the specific industry you work in is a common career aspiration, particularly if you work in an academic or scientific field. Continuing your education, publishing new findings or contributions or working as a consultant may help you achieve this aspiration. Sharing this aspiration highlights your commitment to learning new things and developing professionally.

Earning acclaim and prestige

Earning acclaim and prestige may relate to your desire to earn awards and recognition in your field. Any of those achievements may denote a level of success and expertise in your field. Doing so often requires dedication to your work. Discussing this aspiration may show an employer your commitment to success.

Owning a business

Owning a business may be an aspiration for people who desire personal or financial freedom and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Expressing this as an aspiration may help an employer understand your passion for your career and your desire to succeed. However, it's important to phrase your answer in a way that doesn't suggest you will only work at their organisation for a short period.

Earning an executive position

Earning an executive position in corporate organisations is a common career goal. Many desire to work at the executive level to earn a high level of authority, influence and power within large companies to oversee extensive operations and projects. Discussing your aspiration of working at an executive level highlights your ambition and motivation to succeed in your career.

How to answer questions about your career aspirations

Follow these steps to provide a comprehensive answer about your career aspirations:

1. Consider why you want the job

Before your interview, think about why you want the job that you're pursuing. Consider what you might learn from working in the position and the opportunities for advancement at the company. Identify specific ways you think this job supports your long-term career goals.

Read more: Career Goals: Definition, How-to and Examples

2. Focus on your career

While personal aspirations are important, focus on aspirations related to your career when answering this question. Select an answer that represents your desire to succeed or grow within your career. Be sure to discuss a goal that's a measure of success other than salary or similar benefits to reassure the interviewer of your intentions.

3. Relate your aspirations to the position

Discuss how receiving this job with this specific organisation relates to your long-term career goals. Mention your previous experience and most employable skills that can support your aspirations. When approaching this question, discuss how your qualifications and ambition can benefit the company. This way, you can emphasise your commitment to organisational goals.

4. Express your dedication

Use language that represents your potential commitment to their organisation. Mention your intention to stay with the company for the foreseeable future. Explain to them how the role can contribute to your personal growth. This may appeal to hiring managers because they are often more likely to hire candidates who want to invest in the company over the long run. This way, they can avoid using up valuable time and resources on employees who quickly leave for other positions.

5. Emphasise growth

Emphasise your desire to grow within your career. For example, you can share your hope to earn recognition from others or a certain marker of success within the organisation. Being open about your career aspirations shows your ambition and potential to a hiring manager.

Related: Career Development Plan: Definition, Guide and Example

Tips for discussing your career aspirations

Consider these tips as you prepare your answer about your career aspirations:

  • Choose unique aspirations. Highlight a unique characteristic or personal goal that aligns with your career path and distinguishes you from other candidates.

  • Discuss professional matters. Share only your professional aspirations. Avoid discussing how your professional success may help you achieve your personal goals.

  • Plan your answer. Prepare your answer before the interview so you feel confident about your delivery. Put together an answer that best represents your strengths and abilities.

  • Reassure the interviewer. Be sure the aspiration you discuss suggests that you are the ideal candidate for the job. Reassure the interviewer that you would like to work for the company for a long time and that you are committed to the organisation's success.

  • Research the company. Research the company before your interview to learn about how the organisation's goals and values align with your own. Tailor your response so that you come across as a good fit for the role.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

Example answers to "what are your career aspirations?"

Review these example answers to help you develop your own answer:

Example 1: Baker

Here's an example answer for a baker:

"I'm passionate about preparing delicious food for people to share with each other, and I love working in the kitchen to collaborate on exciting projects for our clients. Although I'm still early in my career, it's my dream to one day own my own bakery that combines these two elements. I want to host courses to help people discover their own love of baking. I believe working for you bakery will help me further build my skills, and I would be interested in discussing offering those courses here."

Example 2: Graphic designer

Here's an example answer for a graphic designer:

"While studying to earn my Master of Arts in Design, I become very interested in how organisations use their design suite to develop their brand identity. I'm passionate about creating cohesive designs that attract audiences and engage them with the brand, helping them best understand and identify with the brand's core identity. One of my lifetime goals is to win an International Branding Design Award for my ability to use design to communicate brand identity."

Example 3: Human resources manager

Here's an example answer for a human resources manager:

"I have a passion for human resources and assisting employees in improving their quality of life through support and communication. One of my main goals is to further develop my knowledge of human capital management and promote employee wellness programmes. Within the next 10 years, I hope to advance further in my career to work as a human resources director in a midsize nonprofit organisation like this one so I can best implement innovative programming."

Example 4: Scientist

Here's an example answer for a scientist:

"One of my favourite aspects of working in science is the opportunity to learn something new. While my current position as a research scientist allows me to share my findings, I hope to do more. One of my primary long-term goals is to publish a book related to my work. I hope my work will serve as a resource for future scientists."

Example 5: Teacher

Here's an example answer for a teacher:

"I love teaching students and I'm grateful to have a career that I'm passionate about. While I'm still in the early stages of my career, I hope to earn a master's degree and plan to pursue training opportunities regularly. One of my long-term career aspirations and commitments to myself is to keep current with new techniques and advancements so that I can always meet the needs of my students."

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