How To Answer "What Are Your Career Aspirations?"

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 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.

Most interviewers ask job candidates questions about their career aspirations. Understanding your career aspirations and being able to relate them to each position you apply for can help your chances of being hired. When preparing for an interview, consider how you would answer this common question about your future goals. In this article, we explain why employers ask about your career aspirations and provide samples answers to the "What are your career aspirations?" question.

What are career aspirations?

Career aspirations are long-term objectives that can help determine your short-term professional decisions. Aspirations are often more generalised or abstract than goals, though this can vary depending on context. For example, a healthcare provider's long-term career aspiration may be to provide outstanding patient care as an industry leader in a hospital setting. A similar professional's short-term goal might be, specifically, to be promoted to a supervisor position within the next two years. Career aspirations often help professionals plan career steps such as the roles they take in the short term and the training they pursue.

Related: How To Answer the Interview Question: “What Are Your Career Goals?” (With Examples)

Examples of career aspirations

People develop their career aspirations based on their talents, personal values, ideal lifestyle and other factors. Consider your interests and values when brainstorming ideas for your response to questions about your goals. Career aspirations can be influenced by whichever factors are most important to you. Some examples of career aspirations are:

  • Managerial success: Pursuing success in a leadership role such as a supervisor or manager can help you progress in your career and obtain additional benefits such as an increased salary and flexibility. Manager jobs are desirable because they offer increased compensation, benefits and the ability to make changes at work.

  • Executive positions: You may aspire to a position at the executive level of a company in your desired industry. These roles can be enjoyable for those who like to make decisions regarding company-wide initiatives and projects.

  • Owning a business: You may aspire to build your own business, and the skills associated with entrepreneurship can also help you succeed as an employee of a company or organisation. An aspiration to become a business owner shows your drive and passion.

  • Becoming an expert: Professionals in fields such as research and academia often prioritise expertise as a key career aspiration. Expertise can often lead to additional opportunities as well.

  • Earning acclaim and prestige: Recognition such as awards and accolades require commitment. As such, these accomplishments can prove valuable as career aspirations.

Why employers ask about your career aspirations

Employers ask about your career aspirations as a way to see how well your goals align with theirs. They want to get an idea of how committed you will be to your job and how long you plan on staying with the company. They also want to see if the position you are applying for makes sense for your ideal career. Questions about your career aspirations can help employers understand your motivations other than salary and benefits.

How to answer questions about your career aspirations

Talking about your career goals can be exciting and rewarding, especially if you are still considering different career options. When interviewing for a job, stay focused on how well you would benefit from the job and the value you can provide the company. Here are several steps you can take when developing an answer to interview questions about your career aspirations:

1. Consider why you want the job

Before your interview, reflect on your own reasons for wanting the job. Consider factors such as professional growth and development, opportunities for leadership and progress in your field. Try to connect your long-term goals to the responsibilities you plan to accomplish if you were to get the job.

Related: How To Answer: "Why Do You Want This Job?" (With Examples)

2. Plan your answer

Outline your ideas for potential answers to this question before your interview. Preparing a plan for a response to questions about your career aspirations can help you feel more confident in your interview. Your confidence can help you perform better in your interview and possibly get hired for the job. Planning can also help ease nervousness before your interview, which can make the recruiting process more enjoyable for you.

When planning your interview response for questions about career aspirations, consider factors such as the company's mission and objectives. Draw connections between your ambitions and the organisation's purpose to help shape your response.

Related: How To Prepare for a Job Interview

3. Use the STAR response strategy

When preparing your response to questions about your career aspirations, try using the STAR interview response method. To do so, think of a situation you experienced, your task in that experience, the action you took and the result. When using this strategy for questions about your aspirations, you might use examples of times that your actions moved you closer to making your aspirations a reality. This may help show your interviewer that you can connect practical decision-making skills with abstract outcomes.

Related: How To Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

4. Keep a growth mindset

A growth mindset refers to the belief that you can learn any skill or ability with sufficient work and dedication. Remembering a growth mindset and thinking of your experiences as learning opportunities can help you emphasise your ambition and potential in the role you want. Try connecting the examples you use in your STAR question responses to your future goals and the actions you can take to accomplish them.

5. Practise possible answers

When you have considered possible answers to questions about your aspirations in life, practise delivering them effectively. Try speaking in a slow and collected manner to ensure your interviewer can understand you when you speak. Consider asking a trusted friend or mentor to hold a mock interview with you and provide feedback on your response to this interview question.

6. Stay flexible

In your interview, employers may ask you questions about your aspirations in different forms. They may ask about your aspirations in life, for example, or about your general future aspirations. Staying flexible can help you adapt to unexpected versions of this question and others. Remember to focus your responses on your career and professional goals.

"What are your career aspirations?" example answers

When answering "What are your career aspirations?" personalise the answer to the position as much as possible. You can impress the interviewer by having many goals in common with the job description. Use these example answers as a guide when practising for an interview question about your career aspirations:

Example 1: Human resources manager

Here is how a human resources manager might answer this question:

Example: "I have a passion for human resources and working with employees to improve their quality of life through support and communication. One of my main goals is to develop my knowledge of human capital management and promote employee wellness programmes. Within the next 10 years, I hope to move into a position as a human resources director at a midsize nonprofit like this one, where I can implement innovative programming."

Example 2: Social studies teacher

Here is how a social studies teacher might answer this question:

Example: "I love teaching 4th-grade social studies and feel lucky that I discovered my passion so early in my career. I hope to find a school that I can work at for a long time in order to build relationships in my community and make a lasting difference. I hope to work in a position that supports my professional development so that I can continually learn new teaching techniques to support my students."

Example 3: Graphic designer

Here is how a graphic designer might answer this question:

Example: "After completing my Master's of Fine Arts in Design, I became especially interested in how organisations build identity through their design suite. I also have an interest in creating the most accessible and versatile designs for use on the web and in print. One of my lifetime goals is to win an International Design Award, which I plan to do by challenging myself to be a creative force on behalf of my clients."

Example 4: Server

Here is how a server might answer this question:

Example: "I find deep satisfaction in providing customers with a positive experience, and this has become the foundation of my career aspirations. I intend to make a career of excellent customer service and support by pursuing leadership in the restaurant industry and, eventually, even opening my own restaurant. My position as a server here can help me practise my skills while providing customers with rewarding positive experiences."

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