Interview Questions: how to answer “What is your dream job?”

Sometimes it pays to be slightly conservative with the truth, particularly when asked about your dream job. Yes, you may have always dreamt of being an astronaut. Or maybe you have a secret desire to be a superhero. And, naturally, the thought of being paid a fortune to work just three days a week with generous holiday allowance is rather attractive.

But this isn’t really what your interviewers are looking for – if you want to be seen as a serious candidate you really need to think of an answer that has some kind of connection with the position you are being interviewed for. Irreverent answers or jobs that are totally unrelated to your work will only serve to damage your credibility.

This question is designed to show whether you possess the skills required to be successful in that job, whether you are motivated, and if you’ll feel satisfied in the role. In short, the interviewer is trying to access whether you’ll be a risk or whether you’ll be a ‘stayer’.

Like many questions of this type, the trick is in your preparation for the interview and how well you know what the job will entail. Think about the core skills that are required or the aspects of the role that are the most appealing to you and how you can build your answer around them. For instance, if you will be working in a team you might talk about the energy you draw from teamwork and how a team dynamic drives you to perform well. Or if you will be working independently of others you might talk about how much you enjoy challenging yourself and your resilient levels of self motivation.

Invent your dream job

A good exercise is to create a profile of your dream job, taking into account elements of the actual job for which you are being interviewed. Don’t worry about details such as job title or the level of seniority. Concentrate instead on the different responsibilities you enjoy, your skills and the personal qualities you possess that will set you apart from other candidates. When you then talk about this in the interview, refer to examples from your career that will demonstrate your enjoyment of a specific work situation or the use of key skills.

As well as reflecting on past situations, you might also think about the goals you hope to achieve and how your dream job would help you get there. In this instance you need to make it clear that your dream job and the job you are being interviewed for are closely aligned. If you can show that the job in question will help move you closer to your dream job and the value you can perceive in fulfilling that role, the interviewer will see value in you. At the same time, it’s important to balance this with how long you expect to stay in the job – avoid giving the impression that you’ll be moving on within six months, recruitment is an expensive process and employers are generally looking for a long-term appointment.

Having a dream is good and, as long as you ensure your dream is rooted in reality, discussing a dream job will help to demonstrate your motivation, the depth of interest in the job that’s on offer and how an employer might benefit by having you on board.

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