How to Answer the Top Career Goal Interview Questions

3 minute read

Career goal interview questions are quite common. Recruiters will often ask you about your long- and short-term goals to establish several things:

  • Whether you’re planning on staying with the organisation for a long time.
  • If you have realistic goals that this role can help you to meet.
  • Whether you have a realistic view of the position and your future within the charity.
  • How ambitious, passionate and motivated you are about the role and the cause. When applying for a role in the charity sector, it’s particularly important to display a genuine passion for their work.

This can feel a little daunting, especially if you haven’t had an interview in a while. So we’ve pulled together a list of four common career goal interview questions―here’s how best to answer them.


1. What is your dream job?

It’s important to be as focused as possible when answering this question. Despite the word ‘dream,’ you should refer to something achievable and relevant to the role you’re applying for. Mentioning that you’ve always wanted to publish a best-selling novel, or to become a well-known restaurant critic, won’t be the right answer (even if it’s true).

The best way to win the interviewer over is to explain the type of job you’d like to have in 10 or 20 years’ time. Make sure to refer to your personal career aspirations and the specific job title you’d like. To show that you’re perfect for the job, you should choose a future role that can be reached from the position you’ll be starting in. For example, “My dream job would allow me to make a positive impact on young people in need, which is why I’d one day like to be Head of Fundraising for a youth charity.”

questions to ask at a charity job interview

2. Why did you choose to apply to this role?

There are two main reasons why a recruiter will ask you this career goal interview question. Firstly, they want to see if you’ve done your research about the charity and the role. Secondly, they want to see if you’ve thought about your own career and aspirations and how their organisation fits into your plans. You need to explain what you’re looking for in a new job and how their role ticks those boxes. You can also mention anything unique about their charity that particularly attracted you to it.

Finally, for extra points, recap your existing skills and how they make you right for the role. You might say: “I saw that your ideal candidate is a natural relationship builder as the role requires regularly communicating with high-profile donors. I have extensive experience of speaking to supporters during my time at… [name of past employer]. I love forming long-term bonds with donors.”


3. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Recruiters ask this career goal interview question to determine if you’re planning on sticking around and if your goals match what they can offer you. After all, a job interview isn’t just about an employer figuring out if you’re right for them. You need to also decide if they can offer you the training, development and progression you want.

To answer this question, you should outline some of your career goals for the next few years. Try to be as specific as you can. For example, are there any specific skills you want to work on? Are there projects or campaigns that you’ve heard about and would like to become a part of? You might say something like, “In five years, I’d like to be running my own digital marketing campaigns to support… [name of cause]”.

remote working in charity sector

4. If we were to offer you the role today, what would you do first?

Recruiters ask this career goal interview question to see how quickly you’ll adjust to the new role. They want to know what standards you’ve set yourself in terms of getting started and contributing to the charity’s mission.

Think about what you can realistically accomplish during your first few weeks and whether there’s anything you should prioritise. Outline any specific projects or campaigns you’re excited to work on. You can also mention if you have any good ideas that you want to implement straight away.

For example, if you’re interviewing for a UX Designer role, you might say, “I’ve spent some time going through the donor journeys on your website. I can see a few immediate quick fixes which I feel could bring about a significant improvement in conversions.”


Preparation is key  

No matter what career goal interview questions the recruiter asks you, remember they’re not trying to catch you out. These questions help you show why you’re a good match for the role, so try to be honest. Make sure to take some time before the interview to think of a few go-to examples and ideas. This will help you form confident answers during the interview. Good luck!


Ready to get some interviews lined up? Take a look at the charity vacancies currently available on CharityJob.


This post was originally published in 2021. We’ve updated it to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.

Andrew Fennell

Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading CV builder and careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and the Independent.

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