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What Is Your Dream Job?

It’s a question most of us have considered at one point or another: what is your dream job? While it’s a good ice-breaker question and fun to daydream about, it’s also a query hiring managers frequently pose to job applicants during interviews. 

Why do interviewers ask about your dream job and what does the right answer look like? Read on to learn the motivations behind this question and how to formulate a response that helps you get the job. 

Why do interviewers ask this question?

Interviewers understand that candidates have professional ambitions beyond the role for which they’re applying. They’re looking to see if those ambitions will motivate you in this job, or if they’ll be something that holds you back. For example, if you ultimately want to have a hands-on role with customers, you might be frustrated by working a back office job. 

Interviewers also want to learn what’s important to you in a job–work style, opportunity for collaboration, and so on–to see if those things align with what it’s actually like to work at the company. 

What a hiring manager is looking in an answer

When asking about your dream job, an interviewer is looking for authenticity. They want to hear you speak genuinely about your passions and values. This will help them understand whether the role is a good fit for you, since employees who find meaning in their work tend to be happier and perform better at their jobs.  

They also want to see if there’s a tangible path between this job and the one you ultimately want to have. If the two are totally unconnected, like a data entry clerk and a professional sculptor, you’re likely not the strongest candidate for the role. 

How to answer the interview question “What is your dream job?”

Customize your answer for the job

The job you choose to mention should be something you could realistically attain down the road after holding the position you’re applying for. To get some ideas, it can help to Google ‘career path for [insert job here]’. The skills that your dream job requires should be aligned with the ones listed in the job description.

Speak in general terms

Instead of naming one specific role, it’s usually a better idea to speak in more general terms about the qualities you’d like in your perfect position, like “a job that allows me to bring my creative ideas to life” or “a position where I get to help a large number of people.” Once again, you’ll want to make sure the aspects you mention are relevant to the job you’re applying for. 

Analyze your ideal job

To help formulate your answer, it can be useful to examine your own preferences for an ideal job. Here are some things to consider:

  • What does a regular day look like?
  • What level of responsibility do you hold?
  • What tools, applications or skills do you use to do your job?
  • What kind of people do you work with?
  • What is the work environment like?
  • What level of pressure is there?

These are all good aspects to incorporate into your answer. 

How not to answer

Choosing an unrelated job

Even if you one day aspire to do something in a completely different field (or retire from work altogether), it’s best to pick a strategic answer for interview purposes that’s related to the position. 

Choosing this job

A hiring manager wants to see that you have goals and ambitions for the future. If you say this role would be your dream job, you risk coming off as cheesy at best and unmotivated at worst. The exception is if you’re far along in your career and have been working toward this position for a long time; in that case, it’s fine to say so and explain how you’ve specifically sought out experience that will position you for a role like this one. 

Naming far-off goals

If the job you describe is too aspirational, the hiring manager might worry that you’ll be bored or unengaged in this role. So, be sure to pick something that’s achievable but not unrealistic. 

Interview answer example #1

“I love when I get the chance to help new hires learn the job. My ideal role would be in a training capacity where I regularly get to help others refine their skills in this position, which is why I’m excited for the opportunity to move into a more senior role.”

Interview answer example #2

“I would love a job where I know my work makes a positive impact on people’s lives. Working for a company like yours would give me the chance to play a role in manufacturing a life-saving product, which touches the lives of thousands of people.”

When talking about your dream job, deliver your answer in a positive tone and don’t be afraid to show some emotion. While you can always learn new skills, you can’t fabricate passion. Letting your enthusiasm shine through is one of the best ways to help the hiring manager see that you have the drive to succeed and are the best candidate for the job.