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11/7/21 - How to answer the interview question ‘What are your goals?’

Show “how your goals and the goals of the job and the team can both be moved forward.”
by Gili Malinsky

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans’ career ambitions changed. More than half, 55%, of Americans in the workforce say they are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, according to Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seeker Survey of 2,452 adults.

Whatever your plans for your professional life, when you’re sitting in an interview for that next job, you’ll need to be prepared. Some of the most popular interview questions include “What are your weaknesses?” and “Why did you leave your last job?” They also include the question “What are your goals?”

Here’s how to answer it.

Think about your goals ‘in the context of the role’
To answer this interview question, think about what you want to achieve “in the context of the role that you’re applying for,” says Amanda Augustine, career expert at TopResume. “If your goal is completely unrelated to what this opportunity is going to offer you, it’s going to be harder for your interviewer to connect the dots and understand, ‘Well, so how does this fit into your master plan?’”

Before going into the interview, consider what your career goals are for the next year or few years, and think about how this role helps to accomplish those. Say you’re applying for a role as a video editor at an advertising company and you want to work on a commercial for an iconic brand. If that company works with major American brands, you could mention that goal to show them their work is already in line with what you want to be doing.

Matching what you hope to accomplish with what this job entails helps to show interviewers “how your goals and the goals of the job and the team can both be moved forward at the same time,” says Brie Reynolds, career development manager at FlexJobs.

Use language that shows you want to contribute
Remember that when you get hired, “you’re joining a company as a two-way exchange,” says Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, entrepreneur and author of “Choose Possibility.” “They’re giving you the opportunity to learn and build. You’re giving them the opportunity to accelerate their progress by hiring you.”

When explaining your goals, use what Singh Cassidy calls impact language, or “language about your contribution to something bigger than just yourself,” she says. It shows that although you certainly want to further your own career, you also want to help the company grow and reach its objectives.

‘They don’t want to know that you want to lose 10 pounds’
One thing to steer clear of when answering this question: Don’t mention any personal goals that don’t have to do with work directly.

“Chances are they don’t want to know that you want to lose 10 pounds and travel to Europe,” says Augustine. “I’d veer away from the personal aspirations unless they actually specified that that’s what they’re looking for. The assumption should be that they want to know something around your goals when it comes to your career.”

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