Common Interview Question: What Are Your Short and Long Term Goals?

MAY 9, 2011 | BY MICAH
List of personal goals discussed during a job interview

It’s hard to know exactly what someone’s goals actually tell the interviewer. Goals are always changing. Most employers ask in order to see if you are going to commit to the company and judge whether or not you have ambition.

How to Answer

Your short and long term goals need to be related. For example, you can’t claim your short term goal is to work in technology, but your long term goal is to open your own restaurant. Also, your goals should relate to the job. It’s a good idea to focus on intangible qualities of work (for example, “I would like to work somewhere that makes me happy”) instead of more tangible goals (“I would like to be CEO of your company”).

Bad Answer

“My short term goals are to find employment within your company, working hard every day and being totally awesome. My long term goals are to be really rich and retire by 55.”

Good Answer

“My short term goals are to simply break into the field. As a college graduate, I need to start building a strong presence in the industry, working for a company I respect and doing a job that I enjoy. My long term goals are to earn new responsibilities within the company, ultimately reaching higher positions as they open and helping the company succeed in the long term.”

This is a good answer. It implies, but does not assume that you will stick with the company you are interviewing with, since an interviewer is unlikely to believe that you believe you will be with the company forever. However, the fact that you are willing shows that are you might commit, and the company likes to see people whose short and long term goals have them potentially staying with the company.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Your short and long term goals should be related.
  • Showing that you might commit to the company long term is a plus.
  • Don’t suck up.

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