Whenever you apply for a position, it’s no surprise when the interviewer or hiring manager asks you about your career aspirations. It’s just one of many tough questions they ask so they get to know more about you as a person and if you’re the type of fit they want to bring on the journey with them.
This is a great opportunity for you to take a step back think about your aspirations — what goals are you working towards? What do you want to achieve in your life? What are your priorities? It’s easy to overlook these questions when preparing for an interview, as the sole focus is on leaving a good enough impression to land the dream job.
To make sure you can answer “What are your career aspirations?” in your next interview, here’s how to answer it with some examples to inspire you.
Why Interviewers Ask About Your Aspirations
The interviewer isn’t just trying to fill time. They want to know whether your personal aspirations align with the business goals. The hiring manager wants to hire somebody with a similar mindset, priorities and goals. If you’re a good candidate and you prove it with your answer, they’ll want to retain you as they know you can help the business grow, and the company can help you reach your ambitions, too.
Your aspirations also let the interviewer know what you’re like as a person. It can highlight how passionate you are, how hungry you are to learn, your commitment to getting the job done, your teamwork levels and more.
Without asking this, interviewers will be unclear on whether you and the company are a good match. If you just respond with an answer involving salary, it’s likely they won’t be interested in you. The best answers are those that mutually benefit both parties — your aspirations and the organization’s goals.
6 Ways to Answer “What Are Your Career Aspirations?” in an Interview
“Over the past six years, I’ve been developing my abilities and skills as a senior developer and line manager with a regional company. Now, I’m ready for a new challenge with a company that’s focused on growth and can continue to push me to reach higher, too.
“I’m ready for the next step up and want to gain more experience in a multinational organization. As enjoyable as it has been managing two junior developers and working on exciting projects, I feel the next step is managing international projects and global, remote teams.”
“I have strong leadership skills to drive the company forward, and my long-term aspiration is to become a department head and manage projects worth millions of dollars.”
“In my current role, I’m working as a marketing consultant. For three of those years, I started to freelance and help small businesses with their marketing needs. That quickly turned to volunteer work in the local area with small businesses, especially during the pandemic when small businesses needed help.
“I aspire to grow as a marketer, eventually becoming a head of marketing, but I also want to continue growing in my speciality so I can support smaller businesses in the local area to help them survive in challenging times, should they ever come. It would be a nice feeling to know I did my part to help the community.”
“It’s no secret my career aspiration is to continue growing to become a high-level executive. Whether it’s a head of a department, a director or on the board, I set myself this goal after I graduated and have worked hard to achieve the three promotions I have in my previous role.
“I’m hoping to achieve this within the next eight years, but I know I have to start small. I want to learn from the seniors in this company and I want to jump at the right opportunities to help me gain the relevant experience to help me reach my career aspirations.”
“Recognition is immense for me. I’ve been immersed in design since a young age, and ever since I was 15, it’s been my aspiration to win an international award. I constantly surround myself with great work to raise my standards, so I don’t believe anything is ever perfect.
“I’m hoping to bring my high standards to your business. I know this is a place that fosters creativity and innovation and this is something I want to be rewarded for. It would be exciting to work with so many other talented designers who can push me to reach my goals and I can push them, too.”
“Thinking about my career aspirations, in the next 10 years, I’d like to be in a position where I’m running my own business. It would be even better if I ran another branch or studio of this company. I have the skills and ability to do this during my career, and I know you offer the support to help your employees work towards their ambitions.
“I’m looking forward to being exposed to new skills and managing a large team. This is the right step towards managing bigger teams and eventually a business. I want something long-term, so I can repay the faith by leading a branch or studio in a new location to build it from the ground up.”
“When I was studying, I was given a chance to travel abroad, which really changed my outlook on life. My last role was relatively mundane, with few opportunities to travel. My career aspiration is to help a business grow internationally and immerse myself with clients from different people and backgrounds.
“I saw in the job description that you allow opportunities to travel and a remote working policy. Working in different locations and growing the brand name across borders will be fulfilling to me. My traveling experience means I can acclimatize easily, which shows I’m in this for the long run.”
What Makes a Good Answer?
Each answer is unique, as every aspiration is different and everyone is at a different stage in their careers. However, there are some elements each answer should include.
- The position: Why are you applying for the role? What is it about the job that will help you reach your aspirations? Consider the number of ways you can grow and learn in the company performing these tasks and whether they align with your personal ambitions.
- Mutually beneficial: Although the hiring manager asks about your aspirations, your answer needs to include something that tells them the company also benefits. You need to seem compatible with their priorities and goals, so it shouldn’t be entirely one-sided.
- Focus on growth: This is a big one. When you know your aspirations, why you want to work at the company and how the position will help you achieve your goals, you need to highlight personal growth in your answer. Whether it’s becoming an expert in a field, a department leader or sitting on the board, you need to explain how you want to grow in this organization, so it doesn’t seem like a stepping stone.