You have prepared yourself well for your upcoming job interview. You have done some background information on the company you are applying to. You have rehearsed your answers to the most commonly asked interview questions. You have practiced your smiling and body language in the mirror to make sure that you hold a good posture and come across as friendly and engaging. Yes – you are primed and ready to take on your job interview with ease and grace…..or so you think!
You enter the interview room and make yourself comfortable. Your interviewer looks up with a broad smile and asks “So, tell me. What’s your dream job?”
Immediately you start to feel a little flummoxed. You think to yourself, ‘wait, she wasn’t supposed to ask me this. How am I supposed to answer that question?’ and you don’t quite know how best to respond. You see, the last thing you want to do here is to blurt out that this job you are applying for is your perfect job. Let’s take a look at the reasons why.
You know that whatever you are going to say now is going to be judged. If you are applying for an entry level job within a company and you tell your interviewer that this is your dream job, will that not make you look like you have no aspirations or ambition to push your career further within that company? Will the interviewer think that you are only interested in doing the job for the money without ever wanting to engage with the business and help to improve efficiency and productivity?
An employer isn’t going to be interested in investing their time and training into you if they believe that you may not be around for the long-term or want to become an active member of the company. An entry level job is just that – it’s entry level. Most employers will expect you to want career progression and would be more inclined to employ someone with a little drive and ambition to move up the ladder.
How to answer the question – without answering the question
Think about your skills and how you want to use them. Explain that your dream job would be one where you can put your skills to good use. Share your interests and values and how your skills will help you in your work. This is a great way to turn the question on its head and help to sell your skills to the interviewer. You can show how your skills and knowledge fit with the company ethos and overall future direction.
Use the question to show your interviewer what you are good at. Should this question come up at a later stage of your interview, and you have already gone into a bit of detail about your skills, experience and knowledge, use this as an opportunity to re-iterate and re-confirm those skills. Talk about which skills you enjoy using the most and the ones you would like to develop further thorough training or practical experience through work. Emphasize that your dream job would almost certainly involve using these skills.
Talk about your interests and values and what motivated you to want to work in this industry. This is another good opportunity to tie in your abilities and talents with the company culture or beliefs. Talk about what keeps you engaged in this line of work and again – emphasize that your dream job would be to work within this sector because of your shared values.
Add complexity to your answer
Assuming that your own values and career goals align with the company ethos and culture, you can add in more complexity to your response. After talking about your skills and motivations, you can use this as an opportunity to bring the focus back around to the company to demonstrate that you share aligned views and have the perfect mindset to match with the company. For example, you could say something like:
“Well, ideally speaking, my dream job would involve me using my best skills to help enhance the company. It would be a position that would allow me to grow and deepen my core values as this is important to me. I am pleased to see that this company also share the same values, and this is why I am so excited to be interviewing for this job today.”
You may notice from all of the above information that there was no mention of a specific job title. Businesses are often in a constant state of growth and reorganization, so although you may have looked at the company structure and have set your eyes on a particular role to aim for, in three or five years time who knows if that role will still be in existence?
Try not to answer this question with an actual job title. This could risk you being pigeon-holed into a certain type of job or only offered one route of advancement. A job that looks appealing to you today may not look quite as attractive a couple of years down the line. If there are other opportunities available that are worth your consideration in the future, you don’t want your boss or line manager to overlook you because they believe you have a different career goal in mind.