Finding your ideal job can be challenging enough. Describing it to an employer can feel impossible. Not only is it hard to articulate, but you don’t want your answer to sabotage your chance of getting the job.
Where Do You Begin?
Why Hiring Managers Ask
First, understand why hiring managers ask this question. They’re not trying to make you squirm. They simply want to assess your personality and preferences, along with your skills and qualifications, all to ensure these are a fit for the role they are hiring for.
They’re not looking for one specific answer, but a response that suits what they are looking for in a candidate. Your answer can help them determine how you’ll mesh with the environment and how effectively you’ll perform in the job.
When asking this question, the hiring manager might also phrase it in a few different ways. For instance, they might ask: “What do you like most about work?” or “How would you describe your dream job?”
Regardless of how they approach asking the question, they want to learn more about your vision for your future, long-term goals, and whether you’re the right fit for the day-to-day duties of the job.
What to Say in Your Answer
There are endless ways to answer this question and you should think about how you would respond ahead of time. You’ll also want to tailor your response around the specific employer and position, so your answer is relevant.
Whatever you do say, just be honest in your answer. You’re not doing anyone any favors by saying what you think the hiring manager wants to hear. If you do get the job, you might find out it’s not the right fit, after all – which is why honesty is key.
One strategy for answering this question is to focus on a particular skill, interest or goal and tie it back into the job opening. Take a look back at the job posting to identify areas that make sense to weave into your answer. If you need to, make a list of possible areas to focus on from the job listing, then think about where your background, skills or goals intersect with these.
Another place to look is the company website. Read through it and find any areas that are of particular interest to you. For instance, if the company is on the forefront of innovation, then talk about how it’s your dream to work at a company that’s leading the way in their industry.
Look too to the employer’s social media profiles, blog, career website and any other areas that will showcase their culture. This can give you a sense of what working for the company is like and what you can expect if hired. If you see a lot of examples of philanthropic work in the community, for instance, you can discuss how you want to work for a company that offers meaningful opportunities to give back.
As you’re doing your research about the company, other factors to consider include the location, the company office space, the any other aspects of the environment that interest you. If, for instance, you know they have an open floor plan, talk about how collaboration is a strength of yours and you’re looking for a position where you can be a part of a dynamic team.
Examples of How to Answer “What’s Your Ideal Job?”
While you should customize your response around the particulars of the position, here are five examples to get you started.
Customer service job
“My ideal job is one where I’ll be working directly with people. I’ve had the opportunity to work in customer service for the past five years and really thrive on strong interpersonal relationships. I want to able to talk to customers and help them out, so when they get off the phone with me, they think, ‘That was easy.’”
“While I’d like to eventually return to law school and get my JD, I’m especially interested in personal injury law. My ideal position would enable me to work in this specialty, so I can put my research and writing skills to use helping a legal team prepare for court.”
“That’s a great question and I’d describe my ideal job as working for a company that is leading the industry. I really want to be a part of a team with an exciting and innovative product line, one that makes a positive impact on people’s live.”
“My dream job involves working for a company that respects its workforce. I’d love to work on a team that is diverse with people from all kinds of backgrounds so we can learn from each other. I think that’s where the best ideas come from and I get excited about collaborating with others who inspire me.”
“For the past 6 years, I’ve been working in this position and now I’m ready to take the next step into a leadership role. I’m in the process of pursuing my MBA and plan to put it to use in whatever new position I accept. I want a role that challenges me, one where I can continue to grow as a leader and make contributions that help my team succeed.”
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