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What is your long term career goal?

The Career Coach Career Coach

Today’s question for the Career Coach:

What is your long term career goal?

An interviewer asked me what my long term career goal was and I told her I wasn’t sure. I really wanted the job because I had the skills needed, it provided me with a pay increase, and was close to home. I thought this was a good answer, but I did not get the job. Could my answer to this question have impacted their decision?

The Career Coach says:

I have a two-part answer for you.

First, by mentioning the pay increase and proximity to your home (which I am sure are legitimate reasons for you) you can be perceived as caring more about yourself than what you can offer the department. It is best to focus on what you can do for the department first, and discuss salary and benefits once they have offered you the job.

Second, articulating a career plan can be an indicator to someone that you have taken the time to consider the future, not just the present. No matter how good a candidate you are for a particular job, not having a well thought out career plan might work against you. Managers often like to hire people who are pro-active, long-term thinkers and planners and who are eager to bring their skills and knowledge to bear in an exciting job. Even if you are not sure of your future career plans, it is best to consider developing an answer to this question that demonstrates that you are thinking ahead. It is fine to say you are not sure of the ultimate position you want to attain if you can say you are passionate about the work that is done in that department or agency. For example, you might say that you care a lot about providing a service to that particular group of constituents, think you are best qualified to add value to the department, and want to gain knowledge and experience as you grow your career in that particular field.

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