In many interviews, potential employers ask, “What are your career aspirations?” to gain an idea of what motivates you and whether you can work collaboratively to achieve one another's ambitions. You can understand your long-term goals before providing a compelling answer. Learning the steps to answering this interview question and reading sample answers can help you prepare for a job interview. In this article, we discuss common career aspirations with a step-by-step guide to answering the question, "What are your career aspirations?" in an interview with examples.
Why do employers ask, "What are your career aspirations?"
The popular interview question, “What are your career aspirations?” helps recruiters decipher how well your goals coincide with theirs. As most companies seek low turnover rates, they employ candidates who remain devoted to a role that helps fulfil their career aspirations outside of salary expectations.
As a bonus, employers would like to see candidates that have mapped out progression in the career they are discussing. In return, you can impress the interviewer with questions relating to your career aspirations and how the employer can help you conquer your ambitions.
Examples of career aspirations
When forming your career aspirations, reflect upon your interests and where your talents lie. Consider the type of lifestyle you wish to achieve, then list the careers to help you get there. People also base ambitions on their independent values and location of work. For example, some may wish to enter a role that takes them around the world while others may aim to work in a major city centre. Here are a few examples of career aspirations:
1. Managerial status
Reaching managerial status is the aspiration of acquiring additional leadership responsibilities over large departments and projects. They also act as a liaison between team members and managing directors or stakeholders. If you have hands-on experience in a particular work area, you can directly apply for managerial positions. Consider sharing your career aspiration with an interviewer to show your commitment to the role.
2. Own a business
Becoming a business owner is a primary goal for many professionals as it brings them entrepreneurship in their field of expertise. A successful business can provide people with the financial freedom to undertake activities outside of work.
Those who ambitiously aim to own their own business display admiral passion as well as a business mind. However, during an interview, you may wish to hold back on expressing your intentions to carry your career outside of the company. It may imply you are only seeking temporary employment.
3. Become an industry expert
Achieving expert status in a specific field within an industry you are passionate about is another common career aspiration. To achieve this goal, you can commit to innovative research projects, publish academically accredited findings, and reach the highest levels of education.
Professionals with expert status are often referred to as consultants. This ambition is attractive to potential employers as it displays your willingness to invest great efforts into the role.
4. Reach executive level
For many people, career progression is about climbing up the job ladder until they reach the top. As an executive member, you may possess power that can influence the direction of the company. These professionals demonstrate leadership over extensive projects, company branches and operations. Communicating this goal can help you display your ultimate drive and ambitious work ethic.
5. Achieve recognition and prestige
Many professionals aspire to earn honorary awards from acclaimed organisations or win competitions in return for praised recognition. You may wish to receive rewards from achievements such as completing a significant project, directing engaging content or submitting a successful publication. To achieve this aspiration, you can dedicate additional time, take risks and demonstrate leadership. These are all qualities sought after by potential employers.
How to answer questions about your career aspirations
Vocalising your career aspirations can seem daunting, particularly if you do not have a clear-cut plan. When you're in this position, align your short-term career goals with the beneficial aspects the job you are applying to can provide. These simple steps can help you prepare an answer to questions about career aspiration prior to your interview:
1. Think about why the job appeals to you
When preparing answers for an upcoming interview, ask yourself why you applied for it. Consider which skills you would like to develop and possible opportunities that you would like to create for yourself in the role. In addition, debate whether the job may put you in a better position to fulfil your aspirations.
2. Concentrate on career progression.
Envision where you'd like to be several years in the future if you persist with this position. Consider job roles that are superior to the ones you'd like to enter and how you plan to work towards promotions to achieve more executive roles. Although it is tempting to view salary as a measure for success, aspects such as a stable work-life balance, certification or authority in a company are also recognisable achievements.
3. Determine how the position relates to your aspiration.
Analyse the initial job description for an idea of how you could develop within the company. Then, look at the list of daily tasks to gauge the type of outcomes employers are seeking and how completing these tasks could enrich your skill set. In addition, consider what strengths you need to reach your career aspirations and how they may benefit the role.
4. Emphasise your commitment to reaching your goals
Here, the aim is to let the employer know that you are worth investing their time in. Enthusiastically inform the interviewer of your commitment to achieving long-term goals as it can leave a lasting impression. As a result, they may feel more encouraged to provide candidates who can see themselves in the company for a substantial period with time and resources.
5. Accentuate your desire for professional growth
In your answer, ensure you show equal interest in the job role itself along with your aspirations rather than one outweigh the other. Next, determine how you'd like to grow within the company. For example, marketers may want to develop a loyal client base, whereas information technology specialists may wish to increase their advanced software knowledge.
Example answers for "What are your career aspirations?"
When responding to this question, incorporate keywords and significant objectives that are mentioned in the job description. By doing this, you raise similarities between your career aspirations and the long-term goals of the company. Here are sample answers that you can use to guide your own answers when preparing for an interview:
Example 1: Human resources assistant
“I am passionate about working collaboratively with others to improve their working experience and enrol new talent into the company. In pursuit of this career, I will work towards a managerial position where I will have additional influence over the well-being of my peers and further develop my leadership skills. From there, I aspire to be a human resources director where I can implement my own strategies.”
Example 2: Supply teacher
“I love to connect with young people along their academic journey and always aim to leave a lasting impression on a diverse range of students. In this role, I am committed to broadening my knowledge of mathematics to achieve the head of the department title. I am willing to take on additional studies to perfect my teaching methods in preparation for this.”
Example 3: Journalist
"Since achieving a master's degree in journalism, I became incredibly interested in building a distinctive writing style that received recognition across the country. I currently maintain a blog covering local events; however, I aim to expand my reach to report significant events throughout various Australian states. One of my biggest goals is to take my journalistic skills around the world."
Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples
Tips on answering career aspiration questions
Revert to these tips when delivering an answer on your career aspirations:
- Keep it clear and concise. Remember the main focus is the job in question, therefore it is best to leave out details such as where you'd like to live or personal matters.
- Mention core skills. Provide details on the skills you are currently passionate about and why you'd like to develop them.
- Provide a realistic time scale. Although it's great to show ambition, aim to keep a realistic time frame of when you expect to achieve your goals. This way, your ideas appear more organic.
- Prioritise professional goals. Stick to forming answers that focus on career development for professional gain rather than salary expectations.