5 Answers to “What Are Your Career Aspirations?” in an Interview

a picture of business person and career aspirations interview question

When the interviewer asks you, "What are your career aspirations?" you might be thinking to yourself, make more money! While that seems like the obvious answer, we must take this question seriously. The interviewer wants to get to know you more.

We're going to go through what's required to effectively answer this interview question and how you might be able to design your own impactful answer.

Let's go ahead and get started.

career aspirations

Aspirations You Can Choose From

Having aspirations as part of your career plan is fundamental. But what about if you don’t know what types of aspirations are applicable to say? Of course, you can’t say that you’d like to be owning the company in the future. So what do you choose from?

Here are some helpful aspirations that you can use to integrate as part of your answer to this interview question:

  • Being exposed to managing a team.
  • Being exposed to new parts of the business.
  • Being able to gain new skill sets that are applicable to future career opportunities.
  • Being able to be more hands on with the companies operations.
  • Being able to obtain a stronger track record of result making.

You can make your aspirations bigger than this if you’d like. For example, one day being able to start your own company is not a bad aspiration. But be sure that you indicate the timeline of that. For example, you don’t want to tell a future employer that you want to start a company next year.

Set longer timeframes on bigger aspirations so that your employer doesn’t feel as though you aren’t committed to the work you’ll be doing.

What Are Some Examples Of Career Goals

Having long-term career aspirations is significant. And aspirations are slightly different but important too. Aspiration may be something that you hope to achieve. In contrast, a career goal should be something a little bit more tactical in nature. Meaning, achievable in the near term.

career aspirations

An example of a career goal:

  • Expecting to develop a new skill in the next year.
  • Expecting to utilize existing skills in the next year.
  • Expecting to achieve results which are applicable to the growth of your expertise in your job function in the next year.

What Type Of Interview Question Is This

Whenever an interviewer asks you a hypothetical question like this, they investigate your ability to have a plan for yourself. When interviewers know that you have a plan for yourself, they can feel more confident that you’ve spent the time in weighing the decision to work with them.

If you can, try to integrate the employer as part of your aspirations. For example, aspiring to work with a highly collaborative company is great. Indicate to the interviewer that’s why you are presently interviewing with them.

career aspirations

Is This Question The Same As Career Goals

There’s another interview question that’s often asked, “What are your long-term career aspirations”. It’s important to recognize that this is a different interview question.

A career goal is more so asking about the path you expect to take as part of your career trajectory. While aspirations might be hopes and dreams that align with a future vision.

Another way to put this is that career goals are 5 years of an outlook. And then aspirations are 10 or 20 years of an outlook.

Related: Answering "What Are Your Career Goals?" (Interview Question)

5 Best Example Answers To "What Are Your Career Aspirations?"

Here are some example answers to help you put together a format for how you might pick your career aspirations and put together a proper response for the interviewer:

Example 1

“When I think of my career aspirations, I think of a timeframe maybe 10 years from now. I have more tactical long-term career aspirations that are 5 years from now, but I think of longer-term aspirations. Ideally, I aspire to be exposed to a broad set of skills that help me learn how to run enterprise businesses. I hope to have been exposed to operations, marketing, and sales more fluently. And aim to have been part of highly collaborative environments that developed me as a professional and person. This company fits with my career path as a professional.”

Example 2

“When I think of my career aspirations, I think about what could happen in the next 10 years. I absolutely aspire to have the ability to run my own business by year 9. Having been exposed to my current skills more deeply. And then being exposed to new skills in a meaningful way. I could also see this being the ability to manage a small team within a larger company, instead of starting my own business as well. I would love to stay with a company for a decent amount of time.”

Example 3

“With all of the skills that I currently have in marketing and public relations, I aspire to learn more about product development and be exposed to customer interactions in a deeper way. I think this will create a highly sought-after type of employee that is in high demand. One with a wide variety of skills that can strategically help companies move forward. That’s the professional I aspire to be. I would like to stay with a company for a large amount of time, to learn everything I can.”

Example 4

"It's my career aspiration to one day be a high-level executive. And I aim to achieve that within the next 5-8 years. In order to achieve that goal, I have to start small. Learn from the inside. And this job opportunity will help me to gain the relevant experience I'll need to see my career aspirations through."

Example 5

"I would really love to work with patients in a hospital setting. Over the next 5-8 years, I see myself learning the administrative duties that are aligned with the patient experience. Then being able to apply those to an administrative function in the future. Either managing nurses or handling day-to-day operations for the hospital."

career aspirations

Why an Interviewer Might Ask About Your Career

An interviewer might ask about your career to learn who you are. And what you aspire to grow toward. They might ask "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Or something like, "In five years, where do you want to be?"

The purpose is to make sure that there is a mutual alignment of the position with the candidate and the employer. Employers want to invest their time and resources into candidates who aspire to grow.

Growth can equal more effort the company receives in terms of work capacity. And in return, the employee can address their long-term goals as a professional. And gain valuable skills and experience. Many people don't think of this question as an opportunity to align interests between the candidate and interviewer.

Prepare a strong answer: Sit down and think through what personal career aspirations you have as a candidate before coming up with an answer. Or even before interviewing. If your career aspiration as a professional doesn't align with the job opportunity, why interview? Recognize what your personal career path is. And ensure the job you're interviewing for aligns with that trajectory.

Common Questions

Common questions from job seekers.

What should I write for career aspirations on the resume?

Here's what to consider before you write something:

  • Consider your long-term objectives. Prior to writing your response, pause to consider your professional objectives.
  • Justify how this position will get you there.
  • Avoid including too much information.

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, Dice.com, WorkWise, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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