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What Is Your Dream Job?: Why It Is Asked & How To Answer [With Sample Answers]

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Are endless job interviews leaving you feeling burned out and hopeless about future career prospects? We’ve all been there before.

Thoroughly preparing for potential interview questions can help you break out of a job-hunting rut by responding confidently and helping you cross the elusive hiring finish line.

Interviewers often ask someone about their dream job, and the question can generate some uncertainty in its answer.

Here, we explore why interviewers pose this question and how to effectively respond, offer some example answers and extra pointers for impressing the interviewer, and walk through some additional questions that might come your way.

Why Do Interviewers Ask “What Is Your Dream Job?”?

Asking a potential hire about their dream job helps someone gain valuable insight into the individual to determine if they mesh well with the company and the role.

What Is the Interviewer Looking For?

Employers want their workers to maintain engagement and satisfaction within their job because that drives performance and promotes employee retention.

Uncovering central career ambitions and values can help identify who fits best into each position.

Here is a list of areas the interviewee’s response can illuminate.

Personal Values

Someone’s explanation of their dream position can reveal their priorities and personal standards.

For example, a person who describes a solitary role might value self-discipline and introspection.

These traits might indicate to an interviewer the person’s primary values might not align with a collaborative or client-facing position.

Passions and Interests

Talking about a dream job reveals an individual’s main interests and areas that excite them.

Describing a role in a completely different industry is a red flag to an interviewer seeking the right fit.

The answer can also show someone’s drive to succeed or go the extra mile concerning responsibilities specific to the position.

Career Trajectory

Describing a dream job demonstrates a person’s long-term professional goals and can reveal whether the position in question aligns with that path to signify their commitment.

It also shines a light on the confidence level surrounding their talents, skills, and professional identity.

How to Answer “What Is Your Dream Job?”

When an interviewer poses this lofty question, it is crucial to find a middle ground between answering with full honesty and tailoring your answer to fit the current situation.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Make their job easier by honing in on areas that relate to the position you are applying for and highlighting your passions, motivations, and skills.

  • Customize and Stay Relevant: Organically utilize keywords and phrases from the job description to hit on points specific to the position you are convincing them to give you. Tailor your response to reflect alignment between yourself and the role they need to fill. You can also make connections between your dream job and the job at hand’s industry to maintain relevance.
  • Discuss Your Values and Assets: Use this as an opportunity to emphasize your skills and personal values. Elaborate on strengths you might have already discussed earlier in the interview to support the argument that you are the right candidate for the role. It can be helpful to research the company beforehand and learn about its workplace culture to describe an ideal work environment reflective of the same values.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

You need to maintain flexibility and stay away from coming off as overly ambitious or pandering.

Here are some things to avoid when answering this question.

  • Offering a Specific Job Title: Rather than stating an exact title, concentrate on general tasks and responsibilities you find exciting and fulfilling. You want to avoid giving a definitive answer and pigeonholing yourself in the employer’s eyes. Leave the details out of the dream job description and highlight the type of work you enjoy doing.
  • Getting Ahead of Yourself: It’s fine to talk about a dream role that is a few steps of progress ahead of the job you are currently interviewing for, but you don’t want to give the impression that you will be bored or dissatisfied with what the available position offers.
  • Responding With the Job You’re Interviewing For: Answering with “this job” reads disingenuous. Fawning or other schmoozy behavior can turn off an interviewer to a potential candidate quickly.

Examples: How to Answer “What Is Your Dream Job?”

All of this information is great in theory, but it can be tough to formulate a real-world answer to the question.

Here are a few sample answers you can use, with a breakdown of why each is effective.

Example One

My dream job is a leadership position where I can influence a team to navigate a project.

I’m a positive person who enjoys lifting others to reach their full potential, and I find gratification in group success.

I applied for this job because the posting said there was an opportunity to move into management after two years.

Why This Works

This answer emphasizes project and employee management skills and an appreciation of collaborative culture. It also shows the candidate’s desire to reach a leadership role and their long-term plan within the company.

Example Two

My dream position combines elements of my last two jobs. In my most recent role, I got to experience daily client interaction and thrived in that setting.

Before that, I handled strategic planning I found enjoyably challenging but did not get to speak to clients directly. That’s why I applied for this Consulting position. It combines strategizing and client interaction.

Why This Works

In this answer, the candidate mentions previous relevant experience and tells the interviewer why they want the job. Select aspects of prior positions you genuinely enjoyed to communicate authentic interest.

Example Three

My ultimate dream is to make an impact by teaching others how innovative technology can grow their businesses.

I would love to work for a company like this one that provides software helping thousands of business owners automate daily tasks so they can focus their energy on bigger things.

Why This Works

Here, the candidate highlights their understanding of the company and its product, and how their values seamlessly align. The answer avoids mentioning a specific job title while tying their passion for the industry to the position at hand.

Additional Tips for Impressing an Interviewer Asking What Is Your Dream Job?

Now you understand what the interviewer is looking for when they ask this question. Here are a few pointers for giving an impressive answer.

1. Conduct Thorough Research

Being able to bring up accurate facts about the company, its culture, and its products or services shows genuine interest in the position.

It also helps when you are finding ways to draw a connection between your values, skills, and experience to those related to the job.

The more you know about the position itself, the closer you can align your strengths to it. Earlier, we mentioned using keywords from the original job posting in your interview responses, and careful research is how you identify what those are.

2. Do a Practice Interview

Choose a friend or family member to run through a mock interview where they pose this and other common questions.

Hearing your answers out loud will help you get comfortable with them, so they are easier to relay when it’s the real deal. Don’t memorize answers because they need to be natural.

Familiarize yourself with the main points you want to hit to build confidence and be sure to get feedback from the person you are practicing with.

3. Prepare Your Own List of Questions

At the end of an interview, employers often ask if the candidate has any questions. They do this to gauge the person’s interest in the job and engagement level during the interview.

You can ask about the onboarding and training process, what the average day looks like for the position, or their expectations of you within the first few months of taking the job.

Listen actively during the interview to take mental notes of questions that might come up from topics the employer discusses.

Additional Questions to Be Aware Of

The dream job question isn’t the only one an interviewer might pull from their arsenal. Let’s look at other questions interviewers commonly use to assess your compatibility with a position.

  • Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years? This question is a variation of asking about your dream job. It’s a way for them to gauge your long-term goals, professional interests, and values. Follow the same guidelines when answering this question as you would for discussing your dream job. Keep it relevant and concentrate on your strengths.
  • Why Do You Want This Job? Your response to this question is an opportunity to highlight how the position connects to what you are looking for overall. Discuss aspects of the work you find fulfilling and how the job fits into your career trajectory.
  • What Interests You About This Position? Here is another chance to elaborate on what excites you about the job. Focus on your traits that match the position’s specific responsibilities.
  • What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? This question is the same as asking, “what is your dream job?” Apply the same method of answering as the dream job response.
  • What Are Your Hobbies? Asking about your hobbies sheds more light on your overall personality so the interviewer can determine if you would fit in well with the rest of the workers and the general environment. It’s positive to describe hobbies that show you are well-rounded, team-oriented, able to set and achieve goals, or that you actively work to sharpen your skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some of the most common questions people have about interviewers asking about a dream job.

What is the #1 dream job?

The most common dream jobs present engaging and purposeful work with flexibility that play to an individual’s talents and skills.

What is the best answer to “What is your dream job?”

Describe an ideal work environment and responsibilities that emphasize your interests and skills. Keep the answer relevant to the position or industry.

Wrapping Up

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially when employers throw out high-reaching questions. When an interviewer asks, “what is your dream job?” you should focus on values, interests, and goals that align with the company and the position.

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