How to Answer "What Are Your Short/Long-Term Goals"

How to Answer "What Are Your Short/Long-Term Goals"


Some job interview questions are so common that they have become almost universal. One example: "What are your short- and long-term goals?" This question allows the interviewer to evaluate your ability to distinguish between the two and to assess your life and career direction.

So how do you answer this question effectively?

Make Sure Your Answers Relate

Ideally, your short-term goals and long-term goals should relate to one another. This shows that you have a plan in place and that you're committed to following it. This means that your short-term goals should somehow lead to your long-term goals.

Short-term career goals examples could include:

  • Breaking into a new industry
  • Learning a new set of skills
  • Gaining experience in leadership and team-building
  • Becoming an authority in your industry

From there, build on your answers to form your long-term goals. If your short-term goal is to learn new skills, for instance, your long-term goal might be to gain a managerial position that allows you to lead a team. Focus on guiding yourself toward the future you envision. Keep your answers honest, but let the company and position guide you.

Incorporate the Company's Mission Statement

Before you attend any interview, visit the company's website and look for its mission statement, vision statement, or similar set of goals. You can use that information to inform your answer to this question. Maybe the company hopes to become an industry leader through innovation and creativity. Short-term goals examples for your interview could include:

  • I'd like to become instrumental in helping my employer supersede the competition.
  • I'm interested in applying my creative talents to achieving innovative results.
  • My goal is to join a team that doesn't accept second-best status.

This way, you show that you've done your research and that your goals align with the company through which you want to gain employment.

Align Your Answers With Your Experience

Avoid answering the long-term goal question with aspirations like "become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company" or "win the Nobel prize." Keep your answers in tune with your skills, work history, and abilities. You don't want to appear egotistical or unreasonable.

Think about the logical next steps for your career. If you were an entry-level candidate two years ago, maybe you're interested in becoming a team leader or a middle manager. Alternatively, perhaps your short-term and long-term goals relate to skill-building or portfolio-developing.

Emphasize Your Desire to Find Long-Term Employment

If you can answer this question within the framework of working for this specific company, you'll put yourself in a great position to walk away with the job. Stress that you're looking for long-term employment with a stable company. Employers are looking for people who won't contribute to high turnover.

This is also a great time to turn a negative into a positive. Maybe you've done considerable job-hopping over the last few years. Hiring managers might look askance at that fact. When asked about your short- and long-term goals, mention that you've changed jobs several times and that you're tired of it. You're looking for stable employment so you can grow with a company and put down roots.

There's no right or wrong way to answer the question, "What are your long- and short-term goals?" It's entirely dependent upon your personality, skills, abilities, and actual goals. Don't fabricate a goal just to please an interviewer; instead, shape your real goals, so they appeal to the company's hiring manager. If you plan your answer ahead of time, you won't stumble over the question or give an answer that you'll later regret.