How to answer "What are your long-term career goals?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why employers ask this

One of the most common questions asked during a job interview is, "What are your long-term career goals?". This question is asked by employers to evaluate whether your long-term career goals align with the company's vision, mission, and values. Employers want to ensure that they are investing in an employee who will stay with the company for a longer time and contribute positively to the organization. It also helps employers in identifying your skills, interests, and ambition.

Answering this question correctly will give the employer an idea of how focused you are and what motivates you. It will help them understand how likely you are to fit within the company culture.

How to answer the question

When answering the question "What are your long-term career goals?" in a job interview, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Be Specific: Be clear and specific about your career goals, but be mindful to avoid being too narrow and restricted. Emphasize that you have plans and a vision. It is best to target your response to the position you are seeking, so research that position and the organization's mission and culture beforehand.
  2. Relate to the Company: Focus on how your goals relate to the company's mission and culture. Explain how your career goals will align with the company's mission and how you plan to contribute to achieving those goals.
  3. Show Your Growth Plans: Show enthusiasm for learning and growth. Explain how you will acquire new skills and how you plan to progress towards your ultimate career goal.
  4. Be Realistic: Avoid providing overly ambitious answers that indicate you are not realistic in your career goals. Employers appreciate employees who are self-aware of their current abilities and development areas while still showing a drive for growth.
  5. Be Open To Learning: Show that you are open-minded and flexible in achieving your career goals and are willing to learn new things and take on new challenges to achieve them. Employers want an employee who is open to new ideas and willing to adapt to change.

Remember, this question is asked to determine your long-term commitment to the company and how well you fit within the company culture and values. So be honest, enthusiastic, well-informed, and focused on your career goals.

Sample answers

1. Bad answer:

"I am not really sure what my long-term career goals are yet. I just want to focus on this job right now and see where it takes me."

This answer is not good because it shows a lack of direction and ambition. Employers want to hire someone who has clear goals and aspirations.

2. Good answer:

"My long-term career goal is to become a marketing manager. I am looking for a position that will allow me to gain the necessary skills and experience to move up the ranks in my industry."

This answer is good because it shows ambition and a specific goal. It also demonstrates that the candidate has done some research on their career path and knows what steps are necessary to achieve their goal.

3. Good answer:

"One of my long-term career goals is to continue to develop my skills and knowledge in my field. I plan to take courses and attend conferences to stay up-to-date with industry developments."

This answer is good because it shows that the candidate is committed to ongoing learning and professional development. This is a highly desirable trait in any job candidate.

4. Bad answer:

"My long-term career goal is to retire as soon as possible."

This answer is not good because it suggests that the candidate is not committed to their work or their career. It also shows a lack of ambition and direction. This answer is likely to put off any hiring manager looking for a motivated and engaged employee.

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