How honest can you be with the answer when you are confronted with this question either in an interview or during the annual performance review?

What are your long term career goals?

I have come across some Millennial newcomers to the workplace who have expressed their desire to be in a company only for a couple of years – at the maximum! Their current intention is to use the company’s reputation as a trophy on their resume – a springboard to jump to another more reputed one sooner or later. So how conducive can be your long-term goal plans for the company in such a situation? And more so, are you prepared to answer this question – with a diplomatic honesty (!)?

In other circumstances as well, this question does crop up during an interview session – the main aim is to know how your career goals fit our company culture and/or how we perceive your role in our organization.

What NOT to say

Even if you are tempted so say so, but it is best not to blurt out, “I do not plan that far along, my goals are short-term only” or “I don’t have any“.

What is the expectation?

Recruiters or managers look for your ability to manage your own goals and also want to gain some insight on your short-term / long-term goals. When answering this question keep in mind that the long-term goals you talk about are not the personal goals but those career goals which relates to or somewhat identifying closely to the offered position / division’s objectives / or perhaps the overall vision of the company.

While answering this question also keep in mind that you would/could be asked for the short term projections as well. Your short-term and long-term goals must be on similar lines and not totally divergent else cross-grilling and consecutively dishonest statements could result from your side.

Long-term goals usually refer to looking ahead 5 years from now. A similar question that is asked during interviews is: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Short-term goals are your existing current goals, usually in the time frame of six months to one year.

Spend a few hours writing honestly how you see your career going – what are your goals? Writing these bring more meaning and clarity.

It now becomes easy to plan your answer. Some thoughtful  and intelligent answer will exhibit your diligence toward your career, displays your focus and positive approach toward personal career development. All of these are highly regarded attributes which can take you further in your career.

Think about it!


Tips on answering the long-term goal questions:

Someone in a leadership role

My long-term goals are toward making a positive impact in the company though my expertise and ethics. I also look forward to develop myself in leadership areas through experience and training offered by the company.”

Or nice to be straightforward if you know the career progression for the job you are applying for:

“I see myself in a management role, leading my team to new innovations and growth. I have a desire to develop my skills as a manager, I’m sure I will eventually get there.”

Such an answer depicts your larger vision if you see yourself being the head of the division or even the CEO one day. The management would be more than glad to know that you have long-term plans to be with the company and a leader in the team is always welcome!


TIP on answering the short-term goal questions:

Can be used at an entry level interview or for mid/senior level

I see myself developing my skills through your training and development programs. I hope the company policies support internal training and reimbursement of work related courses offered by university extensions etc. Can you please tell me something about how employees in this division are progressing towards more learning and promotions?

By turning the answer around to a question to the interviewer you have taken control of the situation and are now proceeding towards the second stage of the interview process.

Ensure that whatever you prepare to say relates to where you want to see yourself as a successful individual in the future. An honest reply may bring success and accolades than a fabricated one on which you have some chances of tripping over when you counter yourself with other inconsistent answers.

Try your best to tie in the answers to the company’s interest and objectives.

The people on the other side of the table want to find the best fit for this job – research and prepare well for each interview answer to get what you want. Does your answer convince you enough to hire you? If not, then think again and present a stronger answer.


Question: What have you found most daunting when preparing for this question?