Best Way To Answer What Are Your Career Aspirations? (2023 Examples, Goals & Samples)
Congratulations! You’ve landed yourself an interview after weeks of job searching.
The only thing left to do is make a good impression on the interviewer. Leave a good impression during the interview, and start your new job next week!
The key to a successful interview, however, lies in preparation.
Learn to avoid making these interview mistakes. You may also need to prepare to answer the question; “what are your career aspirations?“.
In This Guide:
Why Interviewers Ask “What are Your Career Aspirations?”
“What are your career aspirations?”
This is a very common question to ask during the interview. It is open-ended, allows the interviewer to catch a glimpse of your career goals, and allows you to let your passion shine!
But… why do interviewers ask this?
What are interviewers looking for when they ask, “What are your career aspirations?”
This question may appear in a variety of formats, such as:
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
- What advances are you looking to make in your career?
- What are your goals for your future?
Despite their differences, they share a common goal: Interviewers ask them to identify if you are a good fit for the company.
How to Answer “What are Your Career Aspirations?”
In your answer, you should:
- Be honest about your passions and career aspirations.
- Align your passions and career aspirations with the company’s values and services.
- Emphasise growth, and outline examples of how working in the company can lead to your personal growth.
- Show enthusiasm for the role. Natural enthusiasm and passion reflects dedication for the role. Passion is also contagious! Employers are more likely to hire someone enthusiastic and dedicated to the job.
Hiring managers will often ask this question to determine whether you’re a good fit for the position. An example answer you could give is something like;
“Thank you for asking about my career aspirations. In the long term, I’m passionate about being the best [insert career role] I can be. In the short term, I’m hoping to gain experience and develop my skills in [this field]. I’m excited to work with your team and learn from your industry experts, and hopefully they can help me to achieve these goals.”
Tweaking your professional aspirations to fit into your career path may be needed, but most companies expect you to desire a leadership position eventually.
Another example of what you could say is something like;
I’m really interested in growing my skills in [your specific area]. I believe that this role will provide me with the opportunity to do that, and I’m excited about the potential to work with you and learn from your team. Eventually, I would like to take on more responsibility and move up within the company, but for now, I’m really looking forward to making an impact in this role and contributing to the success of the company.”
Noting that you want to improve your leadership skills or hone your essential skills is expected if you’re ambitious. Answering what your career aspirations are will likely be a part of your career switch, so spending a little time making a sample answer is a great idea.
Defining Career Aspirations vs Career Goals
Career Aspirations and Career Goals may often be used interchangeably. However, they aren’t the same thing!
Aspirations are long-term goals. They act as markers and destinations along your career journey.
Meanwhile, goals are short-term action items. They are the stepping stones you conquer along the way to achieve your career aspiration.
An example of a career aspiration is to hone your interpersonal skills as a social worker, to help the elderly achieve a better quality of life.
To help fulfil that aspiration, one goal would be to get a job with a non-profit organization. Another goal would be to attend a class to learn a new language, such as Cantonese or Teochew.
How to Identify Your Career Aspirations
With that said, how do you identify your career aspirations?
Having a hard time thinking of answers on your own? Here are a few further steps you can take to identify your personal aspirations.
Reflect and Question Yourself
Start by thinking about why you wanted this job in the first place.
- What is important in your life?
- What do you like to do?
- Which work areas are you good at?
- Which work areas are you not good at?
- What are your personal strengths and weaknesses?
Write these answers down in a journal. Reflect on your career aspirations and progress regularly. Set some career goals to meet these aspirations.
Review Your Resume
Take a look at your current resume. Does it accurately reflect your career history?
If not, it’s time to update your resume.
- If you could add one thing to your resume, what would it be? An area of improvement in your career could be a potential career aspiration to strive towards.
- How can you improve your skillsets? Are there any skills you’ve always wanted to develop even further? Your answers could form the goals you need to conquer to work towards this larger aspiration.
Create an Individual Development Plan
You’ve identified some goals and some of your aspirations are in life. Great!
With these goals and aspirations in mind, design an Individual Development Plan.
An Individual Development Plan is a how-to guide to reach a single aspiration. It can help you align your career aspirations with the advertised job.
During your interview, focus on an aspiration that is relevant to your career. This way, you can explain to the recruiter how your personal development will work well alongside their company.
Creating an Individual Development Plan is simple:
- At the bottom of the page, write down your aspiration.
- Working backwards, write all the actionable steps – goals – you need to do to get there. This can include promotions, client acquisitions, or major projects.
- As you write, think about how the company you’re interviewing for impacts these goals. How can the company help you meet your personal career goals? Where can they aid in your development?
- Write down every goal until you get to “get hired by [the company you’re applying for]”.
Avoid aspirations such as a salary, location, or the company itself in your Individual Development Plan. Getting hired by the company can be your first goal, but should never be your end aspiration.
And voila! You have your Individual Development Plan, tailored to your ideal company.
Example of a Good Response with an Individual Development Plan
A sample career aspiration would be to get promoted to a Senior Brand Manager. Imagine the satisfaction you could get from overseeing a portfolio of projects, or managing a set of key accounts!
However, promotion to Senior Brand Manager role is the career aspiration. The long-term result. An individual development plan charts your roadmap to achieve this role.
A sample plan is below:
The Individual Development Plan would be as follows:
- Get hired by XYZ Company
- Learn company’s customer service approach
- Master customer service approach by getting positive customer reviews
- Identify potential customer service improvements
- Suggest places of improvements to senior management
- Lead customer experience improvement project
- Get promoted to Brand Manager
- Lead small branding teams to drive big results
- Get promoted to Senior Brand Manager
With this Individual Development Plan established, you can answer “What are your Career Aspirations” in a more detailed, insightful manner. A sample career aspiration answer during an interview could be:
“I would like to merge my work experience and degree to create a unique customer experience with XYZ Company. My background in sales and buying will generate business profit. My team building skills will unite the customer experience as one company and one face. As I continue to develop, I envision myself enhancing customer experiences with business strategies, branding, marketing, and sales.”
Doesn’t this answer sound so much more insightful and driven? The candidate has a clear career aspiration in place, and a solid plan to get there!
To sum up, here’s how to identify your career aspirations, and prepare well for your interview:
- Ask yourself why you want this job
- Review your current resume
- Review your industry and skill sets
- Create your individual development plan
Then, ace that question in the interview!
Career Aspirations Sample Answers
Short-Term Aspiration (Entry-Level Position)
Mention your immediate goals relevant to the job being applied for. It shows a desire to learn, grow, and contribute to the organization, which is what employers typically seek in entry-level candidates.
“I hope to secure an entry-level position in a dynamic company where I can apply the skills I’ve developed during my education. I aim to learn and grow within the organization, gain real-world experience, and contribute to the success of the team.”
Mid-Term Aspiration (2-5 Years)
Highlight your ambition to advance within the organization over a specific timeframe, which demonstrates dedication and drive.
“Over the next 2-5 years, I aspire to take on increasing responsibilities and develop a deep expertise in my field. I want to become proficient in project management and potentially lead a small team. Continuous learning and adapting to industry trends are crucial during this phase of my career.”
Long-Term Aspiration (5+ Years)
Convey your vision for the future and an aspiration to reach a leadership role, which reflects long-term commitment and ambition.
“Looking further down the road, I see myself in a leadership role, possibly as a department head or manager. I want to be a mentor to others, sharing my knowledge and experience. Ultimately, I envision contributing significantly to the strategic direction of the company, making a meaningful impact.”
Industry-Specific Aspiration (e.g., Technology, Finance, Healthcare)
Remember to tailor your response to your specific career goals and the job or industry you’re applying for.
“My career aspirations revolve around making a positive impact in the healthcare sector. I plan to pursue advanced certifications and gain expertise in cutting-edge [Your Industry] technologies. In the long term, I hope to be involved in [Your Industry] development to improve patient care at a broader level.”
Be authentic and enthusiastic in your answer. Show ambition, risk-taking, and a desire to innovate, which can be appealing to entrepreneurial or startup companies.
“I have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and my career aspiration involves eventually launching my own business. I want to identify a niche in the market and create a product or service that addresses a specific need. Building a successful company and providing job opportunities is a long-term goal.”
Academic or Research Aspiration (Teacher, Researcher, etc)
Try to show a clear academic and research trajectory, including pursuing a Ph.D. and conducting impactful research.
“As a dedicated researcher, my career aspirations are centered around making significant contributions to my field. I aim to complete a Ph.D. and continue conducting research that leads to breakthroughs in our understanding of [specific area of expertise]. My ultimate goal is to be recognized as an authority in this field.”
Nonprofit or Social Impact Aspiration
Express a deep sense of purpose and social responsibility. Show your desire to lead and create lasting change, which can be attractive to organizations focused on societal betterment.
“My career aspirations are deeply rooted in social impact. I want to work for organizations that make a difference in the lives of underserved communities. In the long term, I want to lead and guide initiatives that address critical societal issues, creating lasting positive change.”
We hope this article has inspired you with better responses to answer “What are your Career Aspirations?” during an interview! If you’re struggling with identifying your career aspirations, take some time to reflect on the exercise in this article. Formulate your own Individual Development Plan. Your plan will guide your process to answer this question during an interview.
Best of luck!
P.S. if your interview goes well enough, here’s a simple guide on how to write a resignation letter, to ensure you leave your old job on a positive note 🙂
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