Answering 'What Are Your Long-Term Goals?' Interview Question

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 September 2022

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.

Long-term goals are objectives that individuals achieve over a sustained period of time, usually by completing smaller goals. Long-term professional goals typically cover a time span of five years or more and can help you set career goals, decide on a career path and lead to success. Many hiring managers and employers ask candidates questions about their long-term goals, and preparing an answer in advance can help you create a positive impression. In this article, we discuss why employers ask the long-term goals interview question, explain how to answer it and share some example answers.

Related: Interview Question: 'What Are Your Short-Term Goals?'

Why Do Recruiters Ask The Long-Term Goals Interview Question?

Here are some prominent reasons why interviewers ask the long-term goals interview question:

Identify candidates with high-potential

Potential employers and hiring managers can ask this question to identify which candidate intends to stay for a long duration at the company. By asking this question, the interviewer usually wants to check if you are committed to progressing in the organisation and aspire to become a leader. If they find that the likelihood of your working at the company for a long time is high, they may find you more suitable for a particular role.

Related: Interview Question: 'What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?'

Assess your goal-setting skills

Your response to this question can help interviewers assess your personality and passion for your career. If you can set ambitious goals and create a plan to achieve them with relevant milestones, it can convey your organisational, planning and prioritising abilities. These skills can be crucial if you apply for a managerial or leadership role.

Evaluate your self-awareness

Employers may also ask this question to evaluate your level of self-awareness. While discussing your goals, it is likely that you may also explain what obstacles you can encounter. When talking about how you plan to achieve your goals, you may also include how you plan to leverage your strengths and improve your weaknesses. Many organisations have dedicated skill development programmes, and they may like your candidature if you express a desire or willingness to learn a skill valuable for company growth.

Related: Interview Question: 'Tell Me About Yourself'

How To Answer ‘What Are Your Long-Term Goals?'

To answer questions about your long-term goals, you can follow these steps:

1. Describe your long-term professional goals

Begin your answer by stating your long-term goals clearly and confidently. This can demonstrate your ability to introspect and set realistic goals. Add more context and details to your goals using the SMART goals framework that helps you define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based targets.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition And Examples

2. Explain your current status

Next, discuss what you have done so far in your career to achieve these long-term goals. Highlight the steps you have taken, such as completing a specialised degree programme or an internship, to show your commitment and dedication to achieving these goals. Conveying a realistic assessment of how much work and effort is left to achieve your goals can help the interviewer assess that you have self-awareness and organisational abilities.

Related: A Guide On How To Stay Focused (With Practical Tips)

3. Discuss the steps you intend to take

In the subsequent sentences, explain the future strategy and plan for achieving your goals. You can state any certification, training or educational degree programme you are planning to complete. Alternatively, you can explain how you intend to improve your skills by working with talented colleagues, leaders and industry experts in the company. To make this section more engaging and impressive, you can include how working in the role or company you are interviewing for can help you reach your desired goals.

Related: How To Set And Achieve Long-Term Goals (With Examples)

4. Focus on how joining this role or company is essential to reach your goals

Finally, explain how the role and organisation you are applying for can help fulfil your career development goals. If possible, provide specific instances of why working at the particular company can provide you with the right opportunities, support, learning resources, platforms or guidance. Doing this can help convince the interviewer that you intend to stay in the company for a long duration and work hard to improve your skills and performance, which can be valuable for the organisation.

5. Set ambitious yet achievable goals

Being ambitious and confident about reaching your goal can be a positive trait, but it is also essential to convey that you are realistic and pragmatic. Discussing achievable goals can help you portray yourself as a smart goal-setter and planner who knows how to achieve your goals. Besides, discussing a realistic career goal can help you present an achievable plan to achieve it.

Related: Interview Question: "What is Your Greatest Strength?"

6. Highlight an alignment between your values and the company culture

Other than expressing a desire to stay in the company for a long duration, it can be helpful to highlight personality traits and values that fit with the organisational culture. Research the company before the interview by visiting its website and reading online testimonials of its workforce. This can help you understand what kind of employees the company hires and how you can match those traits to your profile. Doing this can help effectively portray your employment as a suitable long-term match for the company.

7. Convey a sense of excitement and passion to accomplish your goals

When preparing and giving the answer, make sure you show a degree of passion and motivation to accomplish your goals. This is crucial as expressing a desire to work towards them can help show that you intend to grow and perform well while working in the company. Display authentic excitement and commitment to joining the company and present it as a crucial step in achieving your long-term goals.

Related: Interview Question: What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?

Example Answers To ‘What Are Your Long-Term Goals?'

Here are some answers that you can review while creating your own:

Example 1

'My long-term goal is to become the head of sales at a telecommunications company. I intend to achieve this goal by gaining more experience as a manager for small teams over the next two to three years and gradually increasing the team size. This can help me develop my leadership style, along with crucial abilities such as management, communication, empathy, motivation building, providing feedback and collaboration.

Over the past year, I have completed a certification course in sales and marketing leadership and am currently finishing a diploma in business communication. I also plan to complete several other specialised leadership and management online courses in the near future. I am confident that working in your company's sales department can help me achieve my goals by providing me with valuable resources, opportunities and mentors. Your company motto of prioritising customer experience and service can also teach me how to serve and engage customers effectively.'

Example 2

'My long-term career goal is to become the editor of a reputed national newspaper. I am aware that I require another decade of journalistic and management experience to become eligible for this role, but I am willing to work hard, improve my skills and develop my leadership abilities. Over the next few years, I intend to work as the editorial head for my department, eventually working as the deputy editor for the entire newspaper. I believe my experience working as an on-ground reporter for diverse media organisations can help me improve my craft and news sensibilities.

I have been accepted to a prestigious international editorial fellowship programme and intend to produce in-depth coverage of critical national issues through the same. This can also give me an opportunity to work with global reports and editors. I am sure working at your publication can help me enhance my journalistic skills, learn a more rigorous reporting process and develop leadership abilities.'

Example 3

'My long-term professional objective is to become a full-stack developer and work with a leading global IT company. Currently, I am learning front-end development through online courses under the guidance of industry experts. I also intend to increase my knowledge and experience in working with different back-end development tools, frameworks and languages. Joining your company as a junior back-end developer can give me the required opportunities to accomplish my goals. I intend to work dedicatedly over the next four to five years to improve my soft skills and technical abilities at your company.'

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