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How to Answer Personal Goals Questions in a Job Interview

by Morgan Rush

Job interviews primarily focus on your professional experiences and qualifications to help prospective employers determine your suitability for the position. Personal questions do crop up during interviews, though. Employers want a clear understanding of your personality, worldview and goals to decide whether these are in alignment with the company mission. Although honesty is the best policy in any job interview, don’t reveal too much when describing personal goals. Keep your goals simple, with clear connections to the job at hand.

Owning Your Own Company

You might want to start your own bakery or surf school somewhere down the line, but don’t mention this as a personal goal during your job interview. If employers suspect that you’re clocking in to accrue savings and experience before leaving to start your own gig, they’re unlikely to hire you. Be honest about this goal by talking about how you’d like to use your leadership skills to help others; for example, perhaps you envision having more time to volunteer at a soup kitchen or children’s hospital. This is an opportunity to discuss your leadership skills and people skills in more detail, persuading a potential employer that you’re the best fit for the job.

Lounging on the Beach in Hawaii

Perhaps you see yourself lounging on a black sand beach in the next five years, but this answer will not impress interviewers. You can, however, indicate interest in travel and talk about how the company’s commitment to sustainable sourcing and fair international trade are in alignment with your commitment to the global community. Mentioning a love of travel is a great way to make professional connections related to respecting diversity, embracing multiculturalism and honoring people as individuals.

Marriage and Kids

Although you might plan to marry and have children some day, an interview isn’t the best time to mention these personal goals. Employers sometimes have misconceptions about whether people can prioritize families and their careers. If you’re already talking about matching outfits for a son and daughter, a potential boss could be envisioning all the time off you’re going to need to raise them. Keep these highly personal goals to yourself, though it’s fine to mention that you come from a close-knit family and you enjoy spending time with them. Talking about the importance of family can help you make points about your professional loyalty, commitment and pride.

Learning New Skills

Speak passionately about new skills you’d like to acquire in the future to demonstrate that you’re a lifelong learner. Learning French, studying computer programming or practicing tae kwon do can demonstrate that you commit to learn new things, follow through and develop skills in the process. Make connections with the position by discussing how you thrive in a changing environment, adapting to new circumstances and taking on new challenges.

About the Author

Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.

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