How to answer, “what are your future goals?”, in a HR, IT or marketing interview

It’s a question that lets a potential employer see exactly how you’ll fit into a role and the company: “What are your future goals?”

When it comes to interviews the question ‘what are your future goals’ goes neatly with ‘so, do you have any questions’ in terms of putting you on the spot – but only if you are not prepared.

It’s good to be prepared with answers to the most commonly asked questions so that you don’t end up saying the first thing that comes to mind; such as, ‘my goal is to increase my salary’.

Using salary to answer this question is a tricky one, for a lot of people the chance to increase their wages is often a reason for applying for a role, but it shouldn’t be the reason you’re applying. Our advice would be to only discuss salary if asked and it is definitely not a great idea to discuss money as a tie in to your goals.

Don’t forget the interviewer will be trying to find out who you are and how you’ll add value.

Breaking down the answer into two main areas, ‘short-term goals’ and ‘long-term goals’ is a great way to tackle the question. Short-term goals are a great starting point for talking about your skills and applying them to the role. Whereas, long-term goals can demonstrate an understanding of the company and explore ways that goals can be supported together.

In a previous blog, we gave tips on the ‘why should we hire you?’ question and though it isn’t always easy or natural to talk highly of yourself, once you have identified these skills you will be able to push them further by thinking about your goals.

To help you tailor your answer to the question, ‘what are your future goals’, we’ve given our advice on points to consider if you are interviewing for a HR, IT or marketing role. Ultimately, how you respond to the question will depend on the skills expected from you in each of the respective professions:

 

How to answer: “What are your future goals?” in a HR interview

  • Short-term: define what you are good at. If that is people or processes, or both, explain why your goal is to immediately begin influencing positive differences within this role.

A successful HR employee is likely to be someone that is creative and adaptive, so use personal examples if you are new to this area of work. If you are new to the world of HR, take a look at our Career Map to learn more about the skills employers expect to see.

  • Long-term: goals do not have to be about career progression but can be about showing commitment. Saying that you would like a secure long-term role within the company, demonstrates just as much career focus as if you were the person that said, “in 5 years’ time I hope to be a Director within the company”.

 

How to answer: “What are your future goals?” in a marketing interview

  • Short-term: upskill one of your weaknesses. It is ok to recognise the things that you are not so great at, as employers’ value those that can self-reflect and be willing to turn it around. A short-term marketing goal could be improving your content writing skills, or something that will instantly benefit you and therefore benefit the business you’d like to work for.
  • Long-term: the classic ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ really does apply here. Marketing is a fast-paced environment and it makes sense that you’ll want to strive within it. Personal growth to achieve a professional marketing qualification will help you move up the ladder. It is also something that most marketing companies, or companies looking for a solid a marketing team, would want too. You might even find that there is a staff training budget for career progression.

Or alternatively, you might be a qualified professional already but fancy testing your skills on leading their brand strategy. Research the company, research their brand values, positioning and target audience and be SMART in your response. Think about not only where you want to be in five years time but how you want to help the company progress too.

 

How to answer: “What are your future goals?” in an IT interview

  • Short-term: upgrade your knowledge and resources to grow as a professional. Learn a new set of skills to either break into a new industry or move to a different role is essential in IT. An enthusiasm for technology is perfect for an IT career, but did you know that sound knowledge of finances is just as useful too?

Soft skills are extremely important and working on these could be a very useful short-term goal as well, especially with team work and even explaining technical terms to non-technical people.

  • Long-term: become an expert in a particular field. Having a general aspiration is definitely a future goal and there is no reason to not talk passionately about how you see yourself or the role evolving. If you have found a niche in the market or better still, within the company, then explain how you’d love to be the master of this niche area. These are the kind of admirable goals that benefit everyone.

Keep these tips in mind when you are asked the question “what are your future goals?” and you will be offering the interviewer a great range of relevant information that demonstrates your abilities and ambitions, whilst staying relevant to your industry.

For further tips and advice on mastering your upcoming interview, take a look at our Job Seeker Resource Centre.

About the Author

Emma Plummer

Emma Plummer

Talent Scout

Emma blogs for the ACR jobseekers’ blog covering tips on how to stand out, managing the job-hunting process and more.