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How To Answer Job Interview Questions About Short Term And Long Term Goals

The Betts Team
April 14, 2020

Just like in college when you had to thoroughly prepare for tests, attending a job interview is not much different. To ace your interview, you will need to know some of the most commonly asked interview questions and prepare your answers beforehand. For instance, what if you are asked about your short term and long term goals? How do you answer that?

If these are questions you have been grappling with, worry no more. In this article, we delve into why recruiters ask such questions, and the best way to answer them. Let’s dig in.

What are your short term goals?

The interviewer will ask you what your short term goals are to try and determine whether or not you have a realistic view of the position you’re interviewing for and where it’s likely to lead. If there’s a gap between your short term goals and what the employer can offer, it will be evident in your answer.

There are different ways an interviewer can phrase this question. Here are a few common examples:

  • What are your near term goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next two years?
  • What do you plan to accomplish in the near term?

The best approach to take when answering a question about your short term goals is to focus on developing skills that are well suited for the role you’re interviewing for in readiness for taking on greater responsibilities within the role or as an entry point to a higher position.

Your short term goals will depend on where you are right now. A person who is fresh out of college will have different short term goals from one who has five years of experience.

In addition to stating your short term goals, you should also describe the steps you’re taking to achieve them.

Here’s an example of a good answer for experienced candidates:

In the short term, I’m working on improving my core competencies through professional development, and on-the-job experience. My aim is to become the best I can be at my role so that I can take on higher-level responsibilities when needed and prepare myself for future advancement opportunities. One way I’ve been doing this is by taking on leadership roles such as becoming the team leader in my most recent project….

Here is an example of a good “short term goal” answer for entry-level candidates:

I’m determined to make the best use of my remaining time in college. I am doing this by taking as many 400 level elective courses as possible in addition to the courses required for my major. My classroom experience together with my recent internship experience has prepared me to make a valuable contribution in the short term. Within a year of starting my new role, I plan to study for industry certification so I can achieve my other goal of becoming one of the best in my role in 2-3 years.

What are your long term goals?

Your long term goals will show the employer whether you have realistic goals that the organization can meet. They will also show the potential employer how ambitious, passionate, and motivated you are.

The hiring manager also wants to know whether you will stay at the company for some time or if you’re just looking for an in-between gig. Hiring and training a new employee is expensive, so the interviewer wants to make sure you will stay for a while.

Here are some other ways the interviewer can phrase this question:

  • What is your end goal in your career?
  • Where would you like to be in the next ten to twenty years?
  • What do you see as your last job before retirement?

The best approach to answering this question is to start by addressing short term goals. If you have not already discussed them, from there, focus on your career trajectory, primarily upon becoming successful in the role you’re interviewing for. You should also show flexibility for taking on different roles throughout your career to broaden your knowledge and exposure. The point is to be ambitious without overdoing it.

Here are examples of good answers:

Answer #1

As I read through the job description for this position, I set up both short and long term goals that would help me hit the required targets. I plan on delivering more than is asked from me. My long term goal is to take on bigger, more challenging targets so I can assess my abilities. I plan on shaping myself during this initial time so that I’m prepared to deliver on bigger targets later.

Answer #2

Although I’ve been in this field for a while now, I haven’t been able to utilize my entire set of skills. But this job gives me the opportunity to do so. In the long term, I want to take on leadership responsibilities such as being a team leader. I believe my short term goals will help me get there.

Tips for answering job interview questions about short term and long term goals

Be smart

You need a lot of tact to answer questions that directly affect the decision of the hiring manager. You must ensure that the career goals you mention during the interview are in line with the interests and needs of the company.

Read the job description carefully and make a list of the points you can associate your short and long term goals with. Next, go through the company’s website to get a feel of what their intentions are. You should also remember to note the organization’s mission and vision statements. The points you note during this part of your research will help you know what kind of person the company is looking for so you can craft an answer that fits the persona.

Ensure your short term and long term goals are related

For your answers to be believable, they must be logical and related. For instance, if your long term goal is to take on more responsibilities by being a team leader, your short term goals should involve learning new skills. You can answer by saying; “My short-range goals are to contribute my ideas as I gain more experience. Later on, I hope to guide recruits to the work environment. Helping new employees settle into their work environment will add to my skill set and help the organization.”

Focus on building your brand and the company’s brand

It’s essential and beneficial to build your personal brand in the workplace. Not only does it improve your visibility in the industry, but it can also benefit your employer.

Therefore, if your long term goals involve becoming an industry leader, ensure you explain how your employer will benefit from your branding. For instance, you can say that you hope to gain a strong social media following that will further your brand and improve the company’s reputation in the industry.

Remember that your goals should align with those of your employer, so keep that in mind while discussing how you hope to further your brand.

In a nutshell

  • Ensure that the answers you give focus on your career goals as they relate to the company you’re interviewing for.
  • Both your short term and long term goals should be in sync with the organization’s goals unless the position is clearly a short term one.
  • Your answer should include a short description of the steps you hope to take to achieve your goals. Avoid giving too many details.
  • Prepare beforehand and practice saying your answers out loud to build your confidence.