Attending a job interview can be an intimidating experience.

And, if there is one question sure to challenge you, it is ‘what are your career aspirations?’
While this line of questioning provides the perfect opportunity to share your future dreams, typically interviewers use your responses to help gauge whether your particular skills and attributes will be a good fit for their team.
What they are really seeking to find out is whether your career aspirations are compatible with the company’s core values and plans for the future.
For this reason, it’s important to spend a little time drafting a considered response.

What's the Difference?

Career coaching service BetterUp says it’s best to look at a career aspiration as a long-term dream that you are pursuing, rather than a career goal which is a short-term objective with a detailed plan.
The core difference between the two is a goal usually has a set time frame in which to achieve it, while an aspiration’s timeline is variable.
An aspiration also leaves room for different outcomes while a goal tends to be much more specific.

BetterUp says there are a host of reasons why an individual would want to grow in their career or even change roles. As such, having the ability to zero in on what is important to you and what you’re good at can help you better understand your own career objectives and help you formulate a plan to help you communicate them and to achieve them.

The Steps

The coaching service offers three steps it believes are a great way to identify the career aspirations that are most relevant to the organisation that you wish to work for.
The first is to gather as much information on the company and role as possible, including learning what you can about the company culture and the organisation’s future plans.
The next step is to identify which of your professional aspirations align with what the interviewers are looking for.
Keep your answers clear and concise and be sure to demonstrate that you are not afraid to take on new challenges or responsibilities.
Be sure to be authentic and not just make them up because it’s what you think they want to hear as they will soon cotton on to your approach and this may mean you are eliminated from the interview process.
Lastly, BetterUp says you need to use your common sense to keep your answers relevant and provide only the information related to the role or company. Where possible demonstrate your ambition and self-confidence as this signals to the interviewer that employing you would be a good investment.

Do your best to demonstrate that your aspirations align with the company’s vision and long-term goals and show the interviewer how the role will help you gain the necessary skills and experience to achieve your career aspirations.