“What do you hope to gain from this experience?” is one of the more common questions for an internship interview, entry-level job interview, or even some higher-level interviews. And if you can’t clearly explain what you hope to gain from this experience, it could cost you the job.
Coming up, I’ll share how to answer this question with sample answers for all levels.
Why Companies Ask What You’re Hoping to Gain
Whether you’re applying for a full-time job or internship program, employers look for more than just your ability to perform the job. Employers want someone who has researched the job, understands it, and can explain how the job fits their goals. They want someone who is interested in this precise role and can explain why.
This is why employers ask, “What do you hope to gain from this experience?” The hiring manager is looking for someone who can explain their reasons for wanting to be in this role and/or industry. That’s true of practically every job application and interview process. In their mind, the candidate who can explain why they want to be in this role will come with more energy, be more motivated, and be better able to overcome challenges and setbacks.
Here’s an example of why hiring managers want to understand your goals:
Imagine one person takes a job simply to earn a paycheck and another person takes a job because it leads perfectly toward their future career goals and will teach them skills they need to learn. From the hiring manager’s perspective, that second person is less likely to quit or give up if they experience a tough stretch of work. They’re more likely to show up on time. And they’re more likely to stay in the role for a year or more, which is among the most important factors that hiring managers look for.
This is why employers ask you to describe what you are looking for in your next job, and why it’s important to be able to explain what you’re hoping to gain from any work opportunity.
How to Answer “What Do You Hope to Gain from This Experience?”
1. Show that you know what the opportunity involves
The first step to answering what you hope to gain from an opportunity or experience is to show the hiring manager that you clearly understand the opportunity. Show that you’ve read the job posting.
What is the company’s mission statement? Who are their typical customers/clients, and what problems do their products or services solve for those customers? One of the biggest mistakes you can make in an interview is to show the hiring manager that you didn’t take the time to understand the job before you applied. Companies hate to see this in an interview. Hiring managers aim to choose candidates who are careful about the direction of their professional career and who are targeting a certain career path.
You can’t demonstrate that you’ve thought about your goals and are confident this role fits those goals if you can’t even show basic knowledge about the position and job duties.
2. Show that you’ve put thought into your job search and are targeting specific areas
This is an essential topic to prepare for when interviewing. You need to be ready to show that you’re looking for specific opportunities in your job hunt. What are you targeting? Simply wanting a job or internship isn’t enough.
Employers do NOT want to hire someone who is simply looking for the first position they can find. Employers would prefer to hire someone who can explain in a job interview why this particular opportunity interested them.
This is why they may also ask other tough interview questions like:
- What are your career goals?
- Why are you applying to this position?
- How did you hear about this position?
- What other companies are you interviewing with?
Prepare answers to those questions, too.
Taking the time to write out what you hope to gain in your next position will help you answer a variety of interview questions and is always a worthwhile interview preparation step.
3. Explain how this opportunity fits your interests and goals
Finally, speak about specific career goals, skills you hope to gain, or areas of interest that align with this opportunity, industry, and/or company. If you’re passionate about a topic, it’s okay to share that, too.
In short: talk about what you’re targeting in your job search and how this opportunity matches what you want.
Topics to think about and address in your answer:
- What aspects of this role will help you pursue your broader interests and future professional goals?
- What specific skills and experiences that you saw mentioned on the job posting do you hope to gain?
- Where do you see yourself in 2 to 5 years, and how might this role help you get there?
Those are the types of questions to ask yourself and the topics to think about as you explain to an employer what you hope to gain from their position.
If you focus on the above ideas, you’ll impress hiring managers when answering this interview question. You don’t need to structure your interview answer in the exact three-step order we covered, but you should aim to include these three essential pieces in some form. Next, let’s look at some example answers to help you practice and prepare. We’ll start with sample answers for interns, and then for entry-level and more experienced job candidates.
Sample Answers to “What Do You Hope to Gain from This Experience?”
Sample Answer #1 (for Internships):
I’m hoping to gain an opportunity to apply the skills that I’ve learned in my classes, particularly financial analysis, to start building real-world experience.
I feel the next step to grow as a student and future professional is to apply those skills to an office environment, and after that, obtain a full-time job in the industry.
I spoke to a couple of other internship job applicants who recommended your firm, and I saw the internship description on your website seemed to match the future career path I’m hoping to pursue, which is financial analysis and reporting.
For those reasons, I felt this was an excellent internship position to begin my career.
Sample Answer #2 (for Internships):
I’ve spent significant time focusing on this topic while studying digital marketing, and I hope to work full-time in this area in the future.
So I thought that before securing a paid job, it made a lot of sense to find a relevant internship in this field.
I reviewed your job posting and the role seemed heavily focused on assisting with the company’s social accounts, which is why I wanted to apply for this position.
I’m also hoping to continue to build my soft skills such as communication and collaboration.
I’ve enjoyed working as part of a team, and leading teams, in my academic work, and I’m eager to collaborate with like-minded people in an internship role next.
I saw your job description mentioned quite a bit of collaboration among your interns, which is something else that excited me about this opportunity.
Note: If you’re asked for a written letter/response to what you hope to gain from the experience, consider providing more detail. Also, do not copy the templates above word-for-word. Many companies use plagiarism checkers on their applications. Plus, in general, you should never be copying entire sample answers.
The examples above are provided to give you a general idea of what a good response would sound like. But you’re always going to be more impressive when answering interview questions like “What do you hope to gain from this experience?” if you refer to the specific role and job description and then show the hiring manager how your exact skills and/or goals fit.
Sample Answer #3 (for Entry-Level Candidates):
I’ve built a foundation of engineering knowledge in my academic career.
Now that I’ve graduated, I’m searching for an entry-level position that will allow me to utilize the skills I’ve learned in my engineering degree.
I want to translate those skills into a full-time work environment to keep learning and growing.
I saw that your job posting mentions product testing, quality assurance, and some work in the product design process, too.
Those are all areas I’ve studied and areas I want to continue following in my career, so your position seemed like a great match for my career goals and existing skill set.
Sample Answer #4 (for Career Change):
I’m looking to change careers and find an entry-level position in software development.
I read many positive employee reviews online and also read that your company has one of the best training programs in the industry, which is why I thought to apply to this particular role.
I’m also hoping to experience diverse cultures in my career, so I’m targeting smaller growth-stage companies like yours now, after spending the bulk of my career in large corporations.
So in short, I hope to land my first full-time, permanent position as a software developer, which has been my dream position ever since I began studying coding online.
Sample Answer #5 (for Experienced Candidates):
In my next job opportunity, I’m looking to continue to build on my customer service skills and perhaps lead and guide others, too.
I saw this job mentions mentoring new team members and giving input into the training process for new hires, which sounds like a great step up for me.
I also did some reading about your company’s background and saw that you have some of the highest customer satisfaction rates in the industry, so I’m confident I could pick up some valuable knowledge here.
Sample Answer #6 (for Experienced Candidates):
I’m actively seeking a new position to advance my career in management.
I’ve been an associate manager for two years and feel I’m ready for the next step in my career, which would be at the manager level.
I saw many of the skills posted for your manager position overlapped with what I’ve done previously, such as hiring team members, training staff, and conducting performance reviews.
Because of this, I’m confident I could step into this role and contribute immediately while also finding opportunities for new challenges and growth.
For example, it’s my impression that I’d be leading a larger team with a slightly larger budget here. So I thought this position could provide the growth opportunity that I hope to gain in my next position.
You may be asked “What are you hoping to gain from this experience?” on job applications, internship applications, and in interviews.
If you follow the three steps outlined in this article and practice until you’re able to give an answer that sounds like the example answers above, you’ll have a response that will impress a hiring manager and land you the job.
Even if an employer doesn’t ask what you hope to gain from the experience they are offering, it’s always beneficial to prepare for your interview by thinking about the following:
- Your long-term career goals and path
- What you’re looking for in your next role as you move closer to your long-term plans
- What you saw in the job description that made you think this position fits your needs
Hiring managers usually choose an applicant who can clearly explain the three topics above, so take your time and practice discussing those ideas before any interview.
Being able to explain what you hope to gain from a position will help you set yourself apart in the job market and can be the difference between landing the role or losing the job to another candidate.
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