Although it seems like a fun, get-to-know-you type question, your answer to, “What’s Your Dream Job?” is more important to your interview than you may think.
“Employers use it to get a sense of who you are as a person, and whether you are truly a good fit for this job,” explains Alexandra Levit, author of “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College.” “If you are just biding your time until you can get your own business off the ground or find a different career that you truly love, they may not want to take the risk of hiring you.”
Dan Schawbel, author of “Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success,” says employers also use the question to know if you’ve really thought about your career and whether you have a concrete sense of direction with it.
Here’s what hiring managers do and don’t want to hear in your answer to this question:
They want to know that you’ve done your research. “When people come into their interviews prepared, and truly understand the company, they can easily link their career path with what the company has to offer,” Schawbel says. For example, if your company is planning to become more environmentally friendly, you could mention that your dream career involves helping the environment within the private sector.
They want to know you can align yourself with the job description. The employer wants to hear that your dream job is something that’s closely in line with the position they’re offering, Levit explains. “A hiring manager in accounting, for instance, does not want to hear that your dream is to become a lounge singer, as that will not fill him with confidence that you’ll be with the firm for the long haul.”
Keep your dream job relevant to the current job you’re applying for. The story you tell should be strongly aligned with the company’s future.
They want to know you have a genuine passion for the job at hand. Why were you excited to get this interview? What are you hoping to contribute to the company? “Share your answers enthusiastically,” Levit says. You might want to mention why your skillset aligns with the current job and how it will help you even further in your dream job. If your abilities match your ambitions, you are probably on the right track.
They want to know you have legitimate reasons for wanting to work with them. “In most cases, they don’t want you to just use the job as a stepping stone or find out that you’re simply looking to make money,” Schawbel says. They also probably don’t want to hear that you plan to take off in a few years to become an entrepreneur.” Make sure that you give strong reasons for why you want to stay within the company.
They want to know you can envision your future success. “Think about how you can give the most value to the people you’re working with,” Schawbel says. Talk about your goals and ambitions for the amount of responsibility you wish to hold later on, and explain why this job will bring you closer to them.
However, don’t be too aggressive. It’s probably not a good idea to announce that you want to run the company within your first few years on the job.
They want to know they can keep you long term. If you want to advance within the company, your answer might help you stay on your boss’s radar for a future promotion, Schawbel says. Your vision and mission for yourself should be linked to what the company offers so they can have you as a long-term employee. Convey your interest in a high-level position in the company later on, but don’t overshadow your interest in the job you’re currently applying for, he concludes.
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