Based on insights into who is really getting the job (plus exactly how they do it), this podcast is a new and simple approach to job interview preparation. Each episode is only five minutes long. This way, you can make progress even if you only have a couple of minutes. It contains one specific topic, gives you the relevant background and a clear and simple, step-by-step approach to help you prepare the perfect answers.
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In this episode, I show you a simple, five-step approach to show the interviewer that you are ambitious, goal-oriented and that the job you are interviewing for is well-aligned with your overall career goals.
Welcome to today’s episode, which is about the common interview question, “What are your career goals?” Interviewers ask this question to determine two things: they want to find out how ambitious and goal-oriented you are, and they want to make sure the job you are interviewing for fits your overall career ambitions, since this usually means that you intend to stay long-term. So, it’s important to have a thought-through answer to this question to convince the interviewer that you are the right candidate for the role. Let me show you a simple, five-step approach to help you with this:
Step 1: Define your long-term targets
A good strategy to talk about your career goals is to start with the end in mind. If everything goes perfectly, what would you be doing in a couple of years? This could, for example, be a specific role you are aiming for or certain responsibilities you would like to have. Ideally, your target should be ambitious, realistic and aligned with the position you are interviewing for.
Step 2: Build your story
Now that you have determined where you want to go, it’s time to link it to your career history. Think about your professional experience and identify 2 to 3 steps you took that are well-aligned with your long-term career goals. In other words, which of your previous positions have helped you develop some of the skills needed to excel at what you want to do in the future? For example, you may aim to become part of the senior leadership team of an innovative technology company and have already gained valuable technology and product knowledge due to your previous positions as a software engineer and product manager. If you are a student, think about relevant courses you took, internships or other projects you have engaged in.
Step 3: Define your strategy
Having a plan to reach your target is not only a pre-requisite for getting where you want to be, but it also shows the interviewer that you are proactive and self-aware. Start by listing the skills, experiences and qualifications needed to succeed at what you picked as your career goal and identify what you still have to work on. Don’t get stuck in the details – focus on the 1 to 3 most important aspects. Then, determine which steps you can take to close the gaps. In our previous example, you might need to develop your leadership skills and business acumen, so you decided to focus on transitioning from being an individual contributor to becoming a manager, with increasing responsibilities over the next couple of years.
Step 4: Include the job at hand
This is a really important aspect that many candidates neglect. You need to show the interviewer that the position you are interviewing for is well-aligned with your career ambitions and that you will be able to create value, thanks to your skills and past experience, so that employing you is a win-win situation. Based on our previous example, suppose you are interviewing for a leadership role within product management for mobile applications. In that case, you could bring in your past software engineering and product management experience. And taking on your first management role would help you develop your leadership skills.
Step 5: Formulate your answer
Combine the results of the previous steps into a compelling answer. It should be concise and without too many details. Aim for 1, max 2 sentences for each area we have covered. A good example could be, “My long-term career goal is to become part of the senior management team of an innovative technology company. After studying information technology and business management, I started my career as a software developer and then shifted into product management. Now, I plan to focus on developing my leadership skills and business acumen by transitioning from being an individual contributor to a management role. The position as a product management lead at your company is well-aligned with my long-term career ambitions, because I can contribute with my technical and product-related skills and experiences while, at the same time, developing my leadership skills.”
These were the five steps to formulating an answer to the interview question, “What are your career goals?” Thanks for listening, and I hope this was helpful to you.