In a typical job interview, you will likely be asked about your goals, whether it’s your goals if hired for the position or goals for your career.
A proven framework for creating goals is based on the acronym SMART — which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Specific goals identify precise objectives, as opposed to ambiguous ambitions. For your career, a specific goal might be earning a certification or completing a training course. While a goal like getting into management might seem specific, it is closer to being a general ambition.
Measurable goals are objectives that offer evidence of progress toward them. A measurable goal associated with getting hired might be trying to achieve the level of productivity of the average employee in the position. Again, aspiring to a management position is an objective for which progress is difficult to measure.
Attainable goals can reasonably be accomplished in the near future. Earning a college degree is a very attainable goal even though it may seem a bit daunting. On the other hand, trying to become a CEO of a company where you’re an intern isn’t a very attainable goal at that moment.
Relevant goals are objectives that relate to your long-term ambitions. If you aspire to become the CEO of a company, then a relevant goal might be earning a business degree. Learning how to ice skate is an admirable goal but it isn’t very relevant to a career in business.
Time-bound goals have deadlines. The deadlines you establish for your goals should be ambitious but realistic.
Using the SMART Framework in an Interview
Before walking into the interview, you should be ready to answer questions about your goals if hired for the position and goals for your career.
With respect to goals as a company employee, SMART goals may include achieving a certain level of productivity or mastering the necessary technical skills within the first six months. The goals you choose should indicate your passion for the profession and a desire to become a top employee. Ideally, you should come across as ambitious but realistic.
With respect to discussing long-term career goals, your SMART goals may include working in a senior position or a leadership role by the time you are in the middle of your career. Ideally, your career goals should speak to the values of the company, the structure of the company and the open position. If you are applying to a small company without much room for advancement, for example, you may want to avoid any talk of climbing the ladder, since that could be difficult. In this situation, it may be better to talk about the skills you’d like to master and how you would like to grow as a professional with the company.
If you keep the SMART framework in mind, it will be easier for you to convince your interviewer that you are serious about achieving your goals.
We Can Help You Ace Your Next Interview
At ZDA, we regularly coach job seekers on how to put their best foot forward in an interview. Please contact us today to find out how we can help you find career success.