Employers like to ask, “what is your dream job?” or “tell me about your dream job” for a few reasons… and there are definitely some mistakes you want to AVOID when answering.
In this article, I’ll walk you through why hiring managers ask about your dream job and the best way to answer.
Let’s get started…
First things first: Doesn’t the hiring manager want to hear that their job is what you dream of doing?
What hiring managers really want to find out is what you’re passionate about and what you enjoy. That’s why they ask you to describe your ideal job.
They want to learn about your long-term career goals and what motivates you. And they want to figure out whether you’ll be happy in this job, or whether you’re bail after six months! That’s the main reason they’re asking you to tell them about your dream job or dream career.
So, they don’t expect or need to hear that their job is your dream position. However, they’d ideally like to hear that there are some similarities.
For example, if you say your dream job would involve never stepping into an office again, and you’ve applied for an office job, it’s going to cause some concerns and probably cost you the job offer!
Don’t worry if this sounds tough to navigate… we’ll talk about how to answer, “tell me about your dream job” step-by-step now…
The first trick to answering this question without raising any red flags is to NEVER give a job title. Instead, tell them about your dream job’s characteristics.
Characteristics are things like this: a job that involves helping people, a job that will let you work with cutting edge technology, a job that is meaningful to you, etc. And you want to combine multiple characteristics, at least two.
I’ll give you a full example answer coming up soon if you’re still not sure exactly what I mean. But for now, the important thing to understand is that you do not want to name a job title when describing your dream job. So don’t say things like “Pilot, Doctor, Director of Sales, etc.”
Let’s continue with the next step to answering this question.
The next step when answering, “what is your dream job?” is to adjust your answer to make sure you’re showing some overlap between the qualities you want in a “dream job”, and the characteristics of the position you’re interviewing for.
Study the job description and know about the company before your interview. That way, you can name a few things that your dream job would have, that also seem to exist in THIS job.
That’s how to give an honest, upfront answer that also shows the hiring manager why you want their job.
This step is very important, and not showing some overlap between your dream job and this job can cost you the offer!
If the job you’re interviewing for is focused on managing a team and you talk about how your dream job would involve working independently and only being responsible for your own goals, that’s going to kill your chances of getting hired.
So if you’re interviewing for a leadership job, talk about what type of leadership your dream job would involve.
If you’re interviewing for a highly technical role, talk about what types of technical challenges you enjoy.
Hiring managers get excited when you show them some overlap between their job and what you enjoy doing… because that means you’re more likely to be motivated and stick around longer if they hire you.
To wrap up your answer, tell the interviewer exactly what you read or saw about their company that excited you. That’s how to put their mind at ease in terms of why you wanted this job.
For example, you might say:
“So that’s why I applied for this position. I saw the job description mentioned that this team is working to create life-saving medicines, and that’s something I’m really passionate about and motivated to work on.”
We’ll look at more sample answers in the next section, so keep reading.
Now that we’ve looked at the three key steps to follow when answering, “what is your dream job?”, I also want to give you a couple of word-for-word answer samples to help you create your own answer.
“My dream job would be a combination of creating products that are making a difference in the world and getting a chance to share them with as many people as possible. I was excited about this position because I read that millions of people use your company’s products each day and it seems like the work you’re doing is having a big impact in the world.”
Notice you’re not telling them your dream job in terms of a job title… like I mentioned earlier. You’re only sharing characteristics to describe your dream job, like your desire to make a difference and your interest in having a large number of people see and use your work.
And then you’re completing your answer by relating it back to what the company is offering, and showing you did a bit of research about them!
Let’s look at two more sample answers now…
“My dream job would be leading a team that’s creating cutting-edge technologies that are used by millions. I read on your job description that this Supervisor role has a chance to grow into a Manager in the next 1-2 years, and it seems like the apps your company is building are having a big impact on the business world already, so I knew I should apply!”
“I would describe my dream job as a mix of my last two positions. In my last role, I had the chance to lead a couple of challenging projects and coordinate across multiple teams, but I didn’t get to do as much hands-on work as I would have liked. In my prior role, I was doing the type of hands-on work that I enjoy most: product design and development. However, at that point in my career, I wasn’t doing any leadership tasks. I’m looking for a chance to combine those two areas now and I was excited to see this type of mix mentioned on the job description, which is one reason I applied for the position here.”
Now that we’ve looked at two word-for-word example answers, here’s a quick recap of the method I recommend:
If you follow these guidelines you will have a great answer to, “what is your dream job?”
Just make sure you practice your answer in the mirror a few times, too (or by recording yourself talking with your phone’s sound recorder app). That way, you’ll be sure you sound confident and clear when answering.
After that, you’re ready to handle this question in your next interview!
Before we wrap up, here are three other great interview resources to help you win more job offers:
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