Although it may seem like a trick question, this interview question is often asked to understand your career goals and is similar to the “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question. The reason interviewers often ask this question is to get an understanding of what you want from your career and to learn more about what you want to get from working at their company. It can seem like a difficult question because you don’t want to sound like you’re going to leave as soon as another opportunity pops up, but you also want to be honest about your future job goals.
The interviewer wants to hear about your ambition and what you want to achieve whilst working for them. You might already know the answer to this question, you may not. It’s a good idea to plan this question before hand so you can be confident in structuring your answer in a way that helps you move onto the next round in the interview process. But how?
Talk about your goals
Early Career – Do you want to work for a company that can help you grow and develop as an engineer? Talk about what is important to you and your development and what position you want to be in, in a few years.
It might be good to mention that if there are opportunities for you to progress within that business, that you would want to stay on and continue to learn with their company. They want someone with goals, so suggesting that you would like to hit your goals with them, can be a great compliment to their company. It is important to talk about growth; you don’t want to be stuck in the same dead-end position for years and it’s likely that they want to hire someone with passion and drive.
Mid-Career – You can talk about how you have learnt and developed your engineering skills with other companies, and you are now ready to find a role that you’re comfortable with and happy to work in for a good amount of time. Just because you’re in the peak of your career, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have goals. So, talk about what you have learnt so far and why you want to continue learning.
It is always good to talk about why you would be a good fit for the company and how your past projects and achievements will help your work for their company.
Near retirement – Staying at one company for the remainder of their career is not for everyone, but if this is you, you can talk about all of the achievements you have made and why you think your vast experience will help you at the company you are interviewing for. You have a lot of knowledge, experience and accomplishments under your belt and don’t hesitate to let them know this. If you plan on working with them for a long time, or until you decide to retire, that is a big compliment! They must be worth it.
Research the company and talk about it
If you research the company beforehand, you can see what projects they have worked on in the past, what they might be working on in the future and overall, see if this company is a good fit for you and your skillset. If you like what you see, and you mention that you want to work for the company long-term you can back up your claim with reasoning. You can mention how one of their projects fits in with your goals or how you think the company culture would be a good fit and you would be very happy to stay there and develop.
Honesty is always best
You don’t want to lie in a job interview. If you know you won’t be at this company for longer than 1-2 years, don’t say you want to be there 5+ years. It’s always best to back up your claims with a reason and if you don’t know why you would stay at this job for more than 2 years, your answers won’t be convincing. You need to know why you want this job, why they company is a good fit for you and explain what you want to achieve whilst with them.
For questions like this, it’s always better to be ready with an answer, if you have thought about your career goals, you will already have a pretty solid answer. You also want to keep the answer positive throughout. Companies know that your plans are not 100% set in stone, so you don’t have to lie and say you want to spend the rest of your career with them, especially if it’s just begun. Think about your answer and ask yourself why you want to work for them. If you can’t see yourself working there very long, maybe remove yourself from the application process or be honest about it in your interview.