Have you ever been in an interview where the interviewer has asked, “Tell me about your dream job,” or “If you could have any job in the world, what would it be,” or some other similarly hypothetical question about where you envision yourself?
When posed with the what is your dream job interview question, you might actually get quite excited when answering, pouring out your true passion, or you might clam up because you haven’t really thought that far ahead in to the future and don’t know what your dream job would be.
But why are they asking you this anyway? Aren’t you here to talk about their current opening?
This question can be a little tricky to answer, especially depending on the interviewer. There are often several motives behind this question. One is to see if you really do think into the future and know what you want out of position, how you might see yourself growing.
Another is to see if the position you are applying for really fits into your career plan. After all, if you’re applying for an administrative position, but your real passion is design or acting, the interviewer might feel you’ll jump ship at the first opportunity that opens up in your field.
Sometimes, this question is about the interviewer trying to connect with you and see what your true passions are. This can be good and bad as you never want the topic to stray far from how qualified you are for the job you are interviewing for.
Always remember your reason for being in the interview, and don’t let questions like this one sway you from your goal of learning more about the company, the position, and ultimately landing the job if you feel it’s a good fit for you.
Honesty is always a good approach, if it fits in-line with the position you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a junior marketing position and if you’re dream is to one day be a marketing executive, you can easily tell the interviewer about your dream role and how landing this position will help provide you with the right experience and opportunities to grow within their organization while showcasing your talents, etc.
The key to that is again, tying it back to the position at hand and relating back what you can offer the company, and that you plan to stick around.
Unless it really is the absolute truth, don’t ever say your dream job is the one at hand. You may lose credibility with the interviewer or they just may take you for a person who doesn’t think much of themselves and therefore cannot see anything greater.
If your dream job really has nothing to do with the position at hand or you’re just not sure what your dream job is, you might want to stick to talking about the qualities of your dream job. What’s the environment like, the company culture, and how it makes you feel. You can also try tying some of these qualities back to the company that you are interviewing with.
An example of how you might approach answering it objectively would be: My dream job is any job that I love getting up in the morning for and that helps me learn and grow towards new possibilities that I may not see today, or may not exist today, but I will be ready for when it comes. That’s why this job excites me because I am extremely interested in the work and I feel that my prior experience at XYZ can add value to the great work you’re already doing here.
(Bear in mind, this statement is more generic, and you’d want to dress it up with your own thoughts, personal feelings, and experience, but it should give you a sense of what you’re aiming for)
Whether or not you get asked this question in the interview, it’s a great question to answer for yourself to understand more about what you are working towards and how you see your career growing.
It’s okay not to know what role specifically you might see yourself in, but you should know what you want out of a company and what drives you as a person.
So the next time you’re confronted with the what is your dream job interview question, remember to be passionate and enthusiastic, but don’t let that long-term passion run away with an answer that doesn’t help you achieve your short-term goal of getting the job.
Be excited, be honest, but always remember to relate your answer back to the position and the company at hand, and how landing this position is a part of the bigger picture you see yourself in someday.
Robin L. Rayburn is the Editor & General Manager of Interviewing.com. Robin was introduced to the recruitment industry in 2007 and her passion for people has never let her stray far from it since. In her spare time she manages her blog, RestlessPillow.com, tweets from @interviewingcom and @chitowntexan, and is always striving to help those around her who have a vision for success. You can also find Robin on LinkedIn and Google+.