Interviews are difficult enough.

Between the pressure you put on yourself, the curveballs thrown at you by the interviewer, and the negative thoughts at the back of your mind, you’re already facing a mental and emotional overload.

Then you get hit with the million-dollar question: What are your career goals? Such a wide-open question can elicit thoughts of fear and uncertainty. The silver lining is that you can reasonably expect the question, which gives you time to prepare a satisfactory answer that not only wows the interviewer but also allows you to explore your professional aspirations. So if you’re dreading this timeless interview question, here are some tips to put your best foot—and answer—forward.

To answer what are your career goals, you may also want to consider both short-term and long-term responses. This will give you both measurable answers for yourself, as well as illustrate to the interviewer that you’ve contemplated both long-term and short-term ideas.

In addition, it will help you describe your career goals to both the interviewer and yourself.

Examples: What Are Your Career Goals in the Short Term?

  • Expanding your professional network
  • Learning new skills relevant to success in your hospitality career
  • Making a switch to a remote job or a sector in the hospitality industry
  • Reaching a milestone such as increasing quarterly sales

Examples: What Are Your Career Goals in the Long Term

  • Improving long-term skills such as leadership
  • Gaining a promotion
  • Becoming an expert in the hospitality industry through experience, certifications, or other credentials
  • Gaining membership in a professional organization 

Career Goals Statement Examples

Another handy way to answer the question “what are your career goals” is to put together a career goal statement. So what is a career goals statement exactly? It’s a written statement that provides a road map to your professional aspirations. It may include:

  • Education or certifications you need to succeed
  • Experience necessary to meet your long-term career goals
  • Your overall career objectives
  • Other things you need to achieve to meet your career objective

To write a Career Goal Statement, you need to answer the following questions:

  • What skills do I need that is prized by the hospitality industry?
  • Do I need to go back to school to achieve my professional goals?
  • Where do I see myself in five years? In 10 years?
  • What professional tasks give me a sense of self-worth, passion, and accomplishment?
  • Are there any aspects of my hospitality career that I need to improve upon?
  • What are my values? How important is it to find a company that meets these values?

Good Example of a Career Goals Statement

Once you’ve answered these questions and any other questions that come to mind when you’re brainstorming, you’re ready to piece together a career goals statement. Like SMART goals, you’ll need something that’s specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Here is a good example to get you started:

“Aiming to become a hotel manager in the next 7 years. To achieve this, I will earn a certification from the ________, gain four years of experience, and gain comprehensive knowledge of hotel management.”

How Do You Plan to Achieve Your Career Goals? The Answer

Once you’ve answered “what are your career goals,” you’re likely to get a follow-up question. “How do you plan to achieve your career goals?” While this seems like a relatively straightforward question, what the interviewer is actually wanting to know is whether your career path lies in tune with the company’s goals, operations, and culture.

While no right or wrong answer exists for this question, understanding what it means can often help you formulate an answer that let’s both your career aspirations and personality shine.

To answer this question, you can say:

“To advance my career, I plan on taking online classes and increasing my involvement with professional organizations. I also noticed that your organization offers training programs and workshops, and I would love to take advantage of them.”


“Getting certified over the next two years is my main goal outside of day-to-day job roles and duties. I’ve already started to attend classes and prepare for my first exam. By gaining this certification, I can push myself on the path to becoming a manager, which will allow me to take on more responsibility within the organization.”

I believe with these examples you can confidently answer the interviewer when asked about your career goals.

Need help setting your career goals? Reach out to me

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