Interview Questions About Your Goals for the Future

Person speaking in job interview
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One of the questions typically asked during an interview is, “What are your goals for the future?” Employers ask about goals because they want to be sure you won't be moving on to another job right away. New hires are expensive to bring on board and train. If you leave in a hurry, they'll be right back at square one.

This question is also a good way for employers to determine if your career goals are a good fit for the company.

Plus, it helps hiring managers make sure that you actually have some – in other words, your answer reveals whether or not you have direction and some sort of plan. You don't need to know exactly where you're planning to be in five years, but you need to be pointed in some direction.

The most successful candidates are the ones whose ultimate aims align with those of the organization, even if they don't spend their entire career working for the same employer (and let's face it, most don't). Read below for advice on answering questions about your future goals, and see sample answers.

How to Answer Interview Questions About Your Goals for the Future

The best way to respond to the interview question "What are your goals for the future?" or "Where do you see yourself in five years?" is to focus on the position and the company you are interviewing with.

While you don't want to lie during a job interview, it's best to stick to the parts of your vision that include the organization.

For example, if you're a newly minted registered nurse, and the hospital you're interviewing with doesn't have a lot of openings for nurse practitioners, now is not the time to mention that you're considering going back to school in a few years.

On the other hand, the hospital might clearly outline a career path for their registered nurses, in which they encourage them to go back to school while continuing to work part-time.

If you know this is the case, and you are interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, emphasize your interest in this path.

This is another reason why it's important to do your research before you arrive for the job interview. Knowing what the company wants, will help you emphasize your ability to solve their problems. Do not discuss your personal goals outside of work, such as having a family, in response to this question. This information is not relevant and could knock you out of contention for the job. 

Think of your goals and that of the company as a Venn diagram: you want to keep your answer confined to that overlapping section.

How to Ask An Interviewer About Career Paths

When it comes time to ask the interviewer questions, you might use this opportunity to learn more about the typical career path for someone in this job. For example, you might ask, “In XYZ Corporation, what is a typical career path for someone with my skills and experiences?”

However, be careful not to seem too eager to move beyond the job you are applying for. Although it's fine to express a desire to expand your role in the future, the emphasis should remain on your strong interest in the position at hand. 

Examples of Best Answers

  • My long-term goals involve growing with a company where I can continue to learn, take on additional responsibilities, and contribute as much value as I can. I love that your company emphasizes professional development opportunities. I intend to take advantage of all of these.
  • I see myself as a top-performing employee in a well-established organization, like this one. I plan on enhancing my skills and continuing my involvement in related professional associations.
  • Once I gain additional experience, I would like to move on from a technical position to management. I know this is a common path for many people in this position. However, for now, I am excited about focusing on and applying my technical skills in this job.

More Interview Questions About Your Goals

  • What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you? – Best Answers  
  • Where do you see yourself five years from now? - Best Answers
  • How do you plan to achieve those goals? - Best Answers

Read More: Interview Questions and AnswersQuestions to Ask the Interviewer