What are your professional goals? What recruiters want to hear | The best answers

by | Interview questions, Job interview

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When you apply for a new job, interviewers want to find out if the position aligns with your long-term career goals. It is quite possible that you will be asked the question “What are your career goals?” about how the position fits into your career plans.

This type of question also allows the interviewers to assess whether you intend to stay with the company in the long term or whether you are looking for rapid advancement. The employer is looking for candidates who fit both the position and the company, so it is important that you are as good a fit as possible.

What HR managers want to know

First and foremost, recruiters want to know what your professional goals are in order to determine whether you are suitable for the position. Does the position make sense in view of your long-term career strategy? Will you hold the position for a reasonable period of time? Are your ambitions appropriate and in line with the company’s objectives?

To determine whether you are a good fit for the company, recruiters may also ask you why you are interested in the position or why you would like to work for the company.

In order to give the recruiter what he or she really wants to know, it is important to gather thorough information about the company. The better informed you are, the better you can answer the questions. Always be honest, but at the same time try to reconcile your own interests with the company’s requirements.

How do you answer the question “What are your career goals?”?

You will be asked this question in almost every conversation. It is important that you are well prepared to give an answer that gives the impression that you want to stay with the company for the long term. You want to show your interviewer that the position you are applying for will help you to develop certain skills and advance your career.

After rereading the job description, try to relate some of the duties and responsibilities of the position to your career goals and aspirations. This will strengthen your arguments and show that you are a good fit for the position.

It is important not to talk about your plans regarding family, side jobs or hobbies at this stage of the interview. You should also not address questions about salary, location or company history for the time being. Instead, focus on emphasizing your career goals and aspirations. If you do not yet know exactly what your career goals and aspirations are, you can focus on ensuring that you have the necessary skills and motivation to do the job successfully.

Examples of the best answers

This is your chance to tell the interviewer where you see yourself in the future and how this position will help you achieve your career goals and aspirations.

Example answer no.1: I have set myself the goal of further developing my project management skills. I strive to successfully plan, coordinate and complete projects. I saw in your job description that you regularly carry out complex projects and I am convinced that I can develop further in this environment. My long-term goal is to achieve a leadership position in project management and to use my knowledge and experience to lead teams to success.

Why it works: You show that you have specific career goals and are focused on developing your project management skills. The link to the duties of the position you are applying for strengthens your argument and shows that you are a good fit for the position.

Example answer no.2: My professional goal is to be successful in the marketing industry and to specialize in digital marketing and social media. I am enthusiastic about the constant changes and opportunities offered by the digital age. I want to use my creative ideas and analytical thinking to develop effective marketing strategies and drive the online growth of a business. In the long term, I would like to work in a management position in marketing and create added value for the company.

Why it works: You show a clear interest and commitment to the field of marketing, especially digital marketing and social media. Your ambition to work in a management position and add value to the company underlines your long-term career goals.

Example answer no.3: My professional goals revolve around developing my leadership skills and taking on more responsibility. I want to work in an environment where I can develop my skills in team management and employee development. In the long term, I plan to move up to a position where I can successfully lead teams and contribute to the company’s development. Your organization offers great potential for personal growth and professional development, which is very appealing to me.

Why it works: You show a desire to develop as a manager and take on responsibility. Mentioning the potential for personal growth and professional development in the targeted organization shows that you are a good fit for the company culture and are motivated to achieve your goals.

Sample answer for a working student: My professional goal as a working student is to gain practical experience in my field and to apply my theoretical knowledge in the real working world. I would like to further develop my skills and specialize in the areas XYZ (subject area of the working student job). The position I am seeking offers me the opportunity to work directly with experienced professionals and get involved in projects that can advance my career.

In the long term, I plan to successfully complete my studies and continue to specialize in my field. After graduation, I would like to take on a challenging position in a company where I can make full use of the skills and knowledge I have acquired. The experience I gain as a working student in this company will help to advance my professional development and prepare me for my desired career path.

Why it works: As a working student, the focus is on gaining practical experience and applying the skills you have learned. The answer shows that the candidate is motivated to grow and specialize in their field. Mentioning the long-term goal of taking on a challenging position after graduation gives the interviewer the impression that the candidate is interested in a long-term career in this field and is willing to work for it.

These examples provide a good basis for formulating your own response, tailored to your individual career goals and the requirements of the position you are seeking.

Tips for the best answer

Plan ahead: Before you go to an interview, you should be aware that your interviewer will probably ask you about your career plans and aspirations. Plan your answer to this question or a variation of this question. If you don’t know, talk about your strengths in terms of your professional skills.

Reassure your interviewer: they won’t want to invest the company’s time and resources in you if your career goal is to stay in this position for a short time and then move on. You should reassure your interviewer that this position means something to you and that you want to dedicate yourself to it.

Competition: You are probably not the only applicant for this position. Competition on the labor market is fierce. Before the interview, think about a personal unique selling point that you believe fits in with your potential career. Emphasize this quality to your interviewer and give yourself an advantage over other applicants.

Match with the company: Make sure your answer fits the job and the company. Demonstrate how your career goals and plans align with the company’s goals and values. Emphasize why this particular company is attractive to you and how it can help you achieve your goals.

What you should not say

Avoid details: The interview is not the right time to ask about salary, place of work or other very specific information. You are applying for a job. Stick to discussing the job unless your interviewer goes into something else.

Don’t talk about personal things: Don’t turn the interview into a conversation about personal things. For example, don’t say, “I’d like to move to Minnesota, where my daughter’s gym teacher lives. Do not mention the care of your elderly parents or your own health problems.

Don’t say you have no weaknesses: you are human. Everyone has at least a few weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to talk about one or two weaknesses in your professional life. It won’t cost you your job.

Possible follow-up questions


The question about career plans and goals is a frequently asked question in job interviews. It is important to be well prepared and to give a convincing answer that makes clear your ambitions and your suitability for the job and the company. Here are some important points to consider when answering this question:

  1. Plan ahead: Plan ahead and consider how the job can help you achieve your career goals and aspirations. Link the requirements of the position to your career goals.
  2. Reassure your interviewer: reassure them that you are ready to commit to the job and that you want to stay with the company for the long term. Show that the position is important to you and that you are committed to it.
  3. Competition: Emphasize your unique selling points to set yourself apart from other applicants. Show what makes you unique and valuable.
  4. Development and learning: Emphasize your willingness to constantly develop and learn new skills. Show that you are open to further training and that you are willing to continue your education in order to achieve your professional goals.
  5. Fit the company: Tailor your answer to the job and the company. Demonstrate how your career goals and plans align with the company’s goals and values.
  6. Realistic goals: Formulate your goals realistically and in line with your previous experience and the position you are aiming for. Avoid exaggerated claims or unrealistic time frames.
  7. Coherence and consistency: Make sure that your answer is coherent and consistent. Combine your previous experience and skills with your long-term goals. Show how these build on each other and how the position you are seeking fits into your professional career.
  8. Positive orientation: Emphasize your passion and enthusiasm for your professional goals. Show that you are motivated and committed to achieving your professional goals.

If you follow these tips and prepare your answer well, you can make a positive impression during the interview and emphasize your suitability for the job. Remember to adapt your answer to your personal situation and emphasize your own goals and plans.

Books for your professional success

Would you like to further your education and increase your market value as an employee? Nowadays, you have to have an ever-expanding skillset. While some employers require hard skills that are difficult to learn, other companies place great value on soft skills. I’ve picked out a few books for you to help you improve your soft skills and become an Employee of Choice.

The boss I will never forget

How to win the loyalty and respect of your employees. In his book, Alexander Groth shows how every manager can gradually develop their strong personal qualities.

Soft skills etiquette

Training in social skills, personality and character, self-management and learning techniques, appreciation and respect.

The laws of winners: success and a fulfilled life

The author Bodo Schäfer has developed and tested 30 easy-to-follow strategies that promote professional and personal success. Each law is explained in detail and contains a practical section with tasks and exercises that the reader can try out and put into practice straight away.


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