Interview Answers: What Are Your Career Expectations?

Discuss ways you might benefit the company.
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Sometimes the most difficult job interview questions are those that don't have a definitive answer, such as defining your career goals or explaining your job expectations. These questions aren't meant to stump you, but they are designed to help a hiring manager determine if you're interested in the job for the long haul, and if your well-suited to the position. To increase your chances of getting the job, discuss expectations that directly relate to responsibilities associated with the position. Avoid being too ideological, and focus on practical goals you'd like to achieve if you're hired.

Ways You Add Value

    An employer wants assurance that you're the best fit for the position, so answer career-expectation questions with ideas of how you might add value to the company. Even if you aren't comfortable bragging about your skills, this is the perfect opportunity to showcase your strengths. You might reply, "Since I was the top selling agent at my previous employment, I'd like to try to increase the company's client base." Or, "I'd like to incorporate a comprehensive patient filing system into the department, as I did for my former employer." The hiring agent might ask follow-up questions about your plan, so be prepared to back up your ideas.

What You'd Like to Gain

    Employment isn't just about serving the company; it's also about what you want to get out of the experience. Define your career expectations by expressing what you plan to gain as an employee. You might say, "I'm excited to learn some accounting skills, so I'll be better prepared for business school." Or, "I'd love to start out as a substitute teacher, so I can learn the necessary skills for managing my own classroom one day." Sharing your short- and long-term career goals is a good response, as long as your comments relate to the position or the industry as a whole. Knowing you have career goals assures a company that you'll work harder, improving your chances of getting ahead in a competitive work environment, reports a career article on the "U.S. News & World Report" website.

Why You're Interested

    Without going into great detail about how your great aunt first introduced you to advertisements on cereal box labels, discuss reasons for your interest in the position. For example, "My interest in graphic design first started when I took a computer graphics class in high school, and I've wanted to be a designer ever since." A hiring manager probably doesn't have time to listen to a complete timeline of your career developments, but she might appreciate a few tidbits to further explain your career interests. Life experiences have shaped you -- briefly explain what got you interested in the industry or in a particular position in the first place. Possibly one of your parents or someone you admire works in the field.

Understanding of Career Responsibilities

    Without restating the job description word for word, answer interview questions about career expectations by elaborating on responsibilities associated with the job. You might answer, "I'd like to see the dental reception area run like a well-oiled machine by answering calls promptly and addressing customer needs as quickly as possible." Or, "My expectations are to research tax laws thoroughly, so I can prepare accurate tax returns and save clients money." Researching not only the position, but also the company beforehand helps you stand out in an interview -- making it easier to express how your career expectations fit the job demands, according to Macomb Community College Career Services.

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