Interview question: 'what is your dream job?' (with tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 16 January 2023
Published 30 November 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
When you interview for a job, recruitment managers assess what you want from a position and how well you may fit in at a company. To gauge your strengths as a candidate, a potential employer may ask you about your dream job. Understanding proven techniques to answer this question can help you stand out and show that you're the right candidate for the role. In this article, we discuss why employers ask, 'what is your dream job?', explain how you can answer this question and share some example answers you can use as inspiration when preparing for your upcoming interview.
Why do employers ask, 'what is your dream job?'
Interviewers ask the interview question, 'what is your dream job?' for several reasons. Asking you this question allows them to understand what you're passionate about, what you're good at, what motivates you and what you enjoy doing. Your answer allows them to learn about your short and long-term career goals, which they take into consideration when deciding if you're a good fit for their team. In other words, they ask about your dream job to see if your plans and goals align well with their company.
How to describe your dream job to a recruiter
Knowing how to provide an effective answer to 'what is your dream job?' helps you highlight your best qualities and stand out among competitors. It can also help prove your suitability for the role you're interviewing for. Here are some steps you can take to prepare a successful answer to this interview question:
1. Consider the job description and responsibilities
Although recruiters want to learn about your interests and career goals, it's important that you take into consideration the specific responsibilities listed in the job description. For example, if you're applying for a role as a junior social media manager, consider describing a dream job that would allow you to work within a team and learn from more experienced marketers. Mentioning qualities that overlap with the position is one of the best ways to tailor your answer to meet the recruiter's expectations during an interview.
2. Determine how the role aligns with your interests
When preparing your answer, consider making a list of your passions and interests. Compare your list to the job description to see if what you enjoy doing aligns with any of the job responsibilities. An important factor for success in this step is to pay attention to the specific keywords that the employer used to describe their expectations of the successful candidate. Using the same keywords to describe your dream job shows that you spend time preparing and that you're determined to secure the job you're interviewing for.
3. Give a general description
When describing your dream job to an interviewer, it's important that you refrain from mentioning a specific job title or position. Instead, mention some general characteristics that you'd like your dream job to have. For example, you may want a job that involves collaborating and brainstorming with others or that involves helping people. Ideally, combine several characteristics and link them to specific experiences that you've had in your previous roles.
4. Highlight your relevant skills
By talking about your dream job, you give the employer a chance to understand your skills. Most people enjoy doing things that they're good at, which is why your answer may be an important hint that shows if you'd be a good fit for a company. Consider indirectly mentioning skills that you have and that are relevant to the role you're applying for. For example, if you're interested in a leadership position, you can say that your dream job would give you the opportunity to support and lead others as they develop new skills and achieve their goals.
5. Explain why you're a good fit for the company
Lastly, you can finish your answer by mentioning to the employer what excites you about working at their company. Doing this may help you reassure them that you're determined to help them achieve their organisational goals because you'd enjoy performing the specific job duties. You can phrase the last few sentences of your answer like this:
'Having in mind my answer to this question, that's why I applied for this position. I noticed that the job description mentioned that I'd have the opportunity to work both independently and as part of a team, which is my ideal work environment. Working in this role would also give me the opportunity to represent the company at various industry events and engage in public speaking activities, which I'm passionate about. Public speaking, next to communication and networking, is a skill that I've been dedicated to developing in recent years.'
Tips for determining your dream job
It can take some time and introspective reflection to decide what your dream job may be. Being aware of your needs and goals in the workplace is a key element in determining your dream role. Here are some useful tips to consider to better define your employment goals:
Know your options: Even if you've always worked in an office environment, it's sometimes useful to consider other, less conventional employment options.
Follow your passions: Working in a field that you're passionate about can motivate you to perform even the more routine tasks that you're not a fan of in other industries. When determining your dream job, consider your hobbies and interests to see if you could pursue them as a career.
Understand what motivates you: Some things that often motivate people to pursue certain careers include social status, job security, a sense of belonging or financial gain. Knowing what motivates you to do your work every day is essential to sorting through your options and choosing the perfect opportunity.
Talk to your friends and colleagues: If you're struggling to determine what you want to do in life, you may consider talking to someone who knows you well about it. Sometimes it's useful to look at yourself through someone else's perspective, as it can help you notice your strengths and potential.
Example answers to the interview question, 'what is your dream job?'
If you are asked this question in an interview without preparing for it in advance, you may struggle to think of a meaningful answer. Reviewing sample answers is a great way to find inspiration and understand how to effectively develop a description of your dream job. Here are some example answers that can help you talk about your dream job:
In some cases, it makes sense to formulate an answer around your key skills necessary for the role. Here's a good skills-focused answer that you can use:
'I think that my dream job would be a role that would allow me to take advantage of my communication and diplomatic skills, for example, when interacting with customers. I enjoy helping people find solutions to their problems. In my previous role, I was responsible for managing customer returns, which many people consider boring but it's what I'm usually really excited about. I'm a friendly and social person by nature and working in a customer-facing role allows me to embrace that.'
If your dream job involves working at a company whose company culture aligns with your values, consider mentioning this in an interview. Here's how you can do this:
'I'd love to work for a company that nurtures teamwork and collaboration. I thrive when performing tasks that require me to brainstorm with others and attending staff meetings always puts me in a good mood. It's also the reason I've decided to apply for this role, as succeeding in it requires communicating regularly with colleagues and external stakeholders. Previously, I held a position that involved a significant amount of team projects, which was my favourite part about it.'
When applying for senior roles, you may want to highlight your strong leadership skills. Here's one way to do this:
'I enjoy guiding other team members on projects and making sure everything goes smoothly. My dream job would be a leadership position where the other team members are active participants and communication happens daily. As someone with several years of experience in the field, I feel like I can now successfully support others while they work towards accomplishing their collective and individual goals. Seeing my co-workers advance their careers while on my team makes me truly happy.'
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