How To Answer "What Are Your Future Goals?" in an Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 5 November 2022 | Published 27 September 2021

Updated 5 November 2022

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When interviewing for a position, employers may ask you questions about your motivations and long-term career goals. Your answers to these questions can provide insight into your work ethic, determination, and compatibility with the organisation. Understanding how to form an effective answer to these questions can contribute to your success while seeking employment. In this article, we discuss why employers may ask this type of question, provide steps to help you form an answer, and offer example answers to the question "What are your future goals?"

Related: How To Prepare For an Interview

Why do employers ask "What are your future goals?"

There are several why reasons employers may ask questions about your future objectives, including measuring your motivations, confirming your compatibility with the organisation, and making informed hiring decisions. Employers may ask this interview question for the following reasons:

To understand your motivation

One of the main reasons employers may ask this question is to measure your level of motivation. Creating specific short-term and long-term goals may indicate your ability to motivate yourself and hold yourself accountable. Self-motivation and accountability are often desirable traits in candidates and employers may ask questions about your future goals to measure these qualities.

Read more: How to Show You're Self-Motivated on a Resume (With Example)

To ensure compatibility

Questions about your future objectives may help employers judge your level of compatibility within their organisation. If your motivations align with the opportunities available within their company, they may be more likely to consider you as a candidate. Understanding your long-term career goals can help employers make informed hiring decisions that make lasting positive impacts on their organisations.

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To confirm longevity

Confirming the longevity of your employment is another important reason hiring managers may ask this type of interview question. Hiring employees that are likely to remain with an organisation for a long time may be attractive to hiring managers. Asking questions about your plans may help hiring managers confirm the potential for the longevity of your employment.

Related: How to Sell Yourself in an Interview (With Interview Tips)

How to answer and explain your career goals

Consider the following steps to help you form a successful answer to this interview question:

1. Define your career goals

An important practice for this interview question is to assess what you want in the next five years of your career. You can even plan further, even for the next decade. This is just one of the few key questions you can ask yourself before an interview. Set some time aside to write down your career goals, both short-term and long-term. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • What are you good at?

  • What do you want to be good at?

  • What do you enjoy most about your current job?

  • What work are you most proud of?

  • What jobs or projects appeal to you?

  • What skills or opportunities are available in the next few years or decades?

Once you've identified your answers to the above questions, here are examples of tangible goals that may emerge for you:

  • Obtaining managerial or leadership experience

  • Gaining industry expertise

  • Dealing with end-to-end project management

  • Being involved in project conception or leadership

  • Developing and streamlining new processes

  • Having strong relationships with clients

  • Providing excellent service or care

  • Becoming expert level at one specific skill or a set of skills

Related: Interview Question: 'Tell Me About Yourself'

2. Research the employer

Your response to “What are your future goals?” may be most effective when focused on how your long-term career goals align with how the company is growing and the opportunities the position provides. Consider researching the employer to look for information about the company structure, mission, expansion, focuses, or new initiatives. You may start by visiting their company website. By reading the about and press pages, you can uncover items like press releases that highlight the company's most important announcements.

You may find more nuanced information by reaching out to someone you know who works there or can connect you with an employee for a more in-depth look into the company's development and goals.

Related: Skills Employers Look For (And Tips on How to Showcase Them)

3. Develop your answer

Often, our career goals are just one part of our larger life and personal aspirations. For this answer, it's important to only focus on your career goals. If some of your personal goals align with attributes that may make you a stronger candidate (like being a better writer or learning a new language), you can certainly include those in your answer as well. While promotions or salary can also be a part of your career goals, it may be beneficial to avoid including these in your answer and focus on the skills, abilities, and experience you want to achieve instead.

Related: 4 Steps to Emphasise Personal Strengths in an Interview

4. Create a script

It may also be beneficial to create a written script for your answer to study before your interview. Creating a script can help you organise your thoughts and memorise the important details of your response. Even if you don't memorise your script entirely, it can be a good reference when providing an answer during your interview. You can either format your script into a fully formed answer or simply create a list of bullet points that highlight the most essential parts of your answer.

Related: How To Prepare For an Online Interview: Tips and Suggestions

5. Provide a clear yet broad response

Though your plans may include a lot of details, it's important to keep your answer short and rather general. Making your goals too specific might limit you to certain opportunities or make you appear less well-rounded than other candidates. As in all interview questions, be conscious of how much time you're taking to answer the question and avoid rambling or over-explaining.

Related: 8 Tough Interview Questions and How You Can Answer Them

Example answers to the question "What are your future career goals?"

Having some example answers as a reference can help you to create creative and authentic answers to interview questions about your professional goals. Below are some example answers to this interview question to help you form your own:

Example 1

"I'd like to continue developing my customer service skills and teamwork abilities. As a server, being able to provide excellent customer service while working as part of a team is essential to succeeding in the workplace. I understand the importance of the combination of these two skills and intend to continue developing these traits by attending team-building exercises with my colleagues and practising active listening when interacting with my customers."

Example 2

"I'm planning to discover talented new authors in the upcoming years and help them with their publishing needs. Delivering a best-selling book would be a dream of mine and I look forward to finding ways to make that dream become a reality. Establishing my name as an editor and publisher is my primary career objective."

Example 3

"My current objectives include becoming a certified emergency medical technician. As I continue my medical education, I want to provide the best medical attention to my community. Serving the public by keeping the public safe and healthy is my primary motivation as a medical professional. Receiving my certification can help me achieve this goal while adhering to industry requirements."

Example 4

"I'd like to take on more leadership responsibilities as I continue developing my career. As a sales associate, I enjoy leading a team to develop new processes and improve sales productivity. I'd like to find employment with a company like your own that allows me to grow in my professional life, learn from other experienced sales professionals and develop my leadership abilities."

Example 5

"I recently graduated with a degree in finance. My immediate goal is to secure a fulfilling position in the industry. My longer-term goals include learning a variety of areas within the finance industry to know which I'd like to specialise in as I advance in my career. I'd love to develop a high level of expertise in a particular area, but I know the first step is securing a position where I can learn from other talented finance professionals."

Example 6

"My goal for much of my professional life was to become a manager. I've achieved that goal last year and now I look forward to building and managing larger teams and departments. I've found that I love mentoring teams and helping other professionals develop their skills. When I saw your job description for this role and read about the opportunity to hire and mentor a team of up to 10 individuals, I knew it was a chance for me to pursue my goals."

Read more: Common Interview Questions and Answers

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