Q: I am going for an interview in a company next week. A friend of mine went for an interview there about a year ago and a question that really threw her was “identify your dream job – and why?” She reckons she made a complete mess of it. How can I get my head around this if it comes up again? (DF, email).
A: There is a Rose of Tralee dimension to the question – but this is no stage pageant. This is serious business. You could drift away on a false trail on this answer.
A few points to bear in mind:
- “Centre midfield for Manchester United” is not a feasible answer here. Neither is performing your own song in front of 80,000 people in Croke Park.
- There’s only one job on your agenda right now – the one for which they’ve called you to interview. You must see every question as an opportunity to show your suitability for the role. Relevance is always the key word.
- Link this role at hand to the fictional dream job. Can this role one day help you get to that dream job? Does the dream job involve you performing or managing at a higher level within your current field? It should be. Present the dream job as a logical progression from this current role. The experience you get here will prepare you for that next step in your career.
- Get specific. Why have you set your sights on a certain role somewhere down the line? What attributes and skills do you possess that make you a potential candidate for such a role? How will the level of ambition you show be of value in the role you’re now chasing? What contacts have you already made at a higher level that might be put to good use here?
- Don’t be afraid to show that you are thinking down the line. The ‘job for life’ expectation is shot through for years now so you’ve nothing to lose by letting them know there will come a time when you’ll be looking over the fence. In fact, they might be more worried if you planned to be a lifer on their books. Everyone is looking over the fence.
- I refer you to No. 2 once again.
- Close out as many of your answers as you can by talking about the role you’re now pursuing. Remember that even though they asked you about your dream job, their real interest lies in what you can offer them now.
- Okay, I’ll cut you some slack: you can have a bit of fun with No. 1 if you feel are you can carry off humour. An interview panel isn’t allergic to a moment of levity – but only try it if you feel you can succeed with it. Get out of it again quickly enough and point yourself back in the direction of the good stuff. If you get it right, it could stand to you. Anytime I’ve been on interview panels, I’ve been grateful to those who brightened up my day. But if you’re not totally comfortable with humour, play it straight bat.
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.
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