Describe Your Ideal Job: The Perfect Interview Answer

January 20th, 2014 | Articles, Interviewing | No Comments »

Ideal job

It rarely pays for an interview question to stray beyond the norm. Companies are better served with standardized questions that can measure a candidate’s aptitude and cultural compatibility instead of wacky mental puzzles or brainteasers.

Yet some typical questions still manage to throw candidates for a loop especially this one: “Describe your ideal job.”

Don’t get caught off guard

At a first glance, the question itself doesn’t seem too mired by a hidden meaning but its innocuous looks can be deceiving. The question is less about some fanciful ideal job than it is about pegging your exact needs and passion as an employee.

Often, it takes financial concerns out of the picture: “If you could do anything in the world for a living and money wasn’t a question, what would you do?” Whether presented with these exact words or a slight variation, candidates are expected to give an honest answer…to a point. Let me explain.

If a System Engineer sits down to an interview and is asked “Describe your ideal job,” there are certain professions that shouldn’t slip from between his or her lips. Astronomer. Mystery novelist. Stunt clown at the UniverSoul Circus. The System Engineer may be passionate about all those things but an employer doesn’t want to hire an employee who might up and join the circus when a quarter-life or mid-life crisis comes a knockin’.

What a manager really wants

Employers want to hear about what will keep a potential employee motivated, committed, and happy. A good response should draw on what the job seeker loved about previous positions and should peg down the best of what a future position could bring.

It’s expected that the interviewee will say he or she wants to stay in the same profession but it’s not so clear as to which challenges, what company culture, and what growth opportunities fit into each individual candidates ideal.

Honesty is paramount but it doesn’t hurt to tailor responses to what the company has to offer. When an employer begins to see parallels between a candidate’s and the company’s ideals, it will start to seem like fate.

Stick to these rules when preparing your response:

• Search the original job advertisement and any correspondence with the company for tips on the culture and challenges. It will help to find how the company aligns with your career goals.

• Don’t spend too long on any ideal quality that the company doesn’t offer. It’s wasted breath.

• Highlight how your ideal job would make you a better employee. It shows passion and ambition.

• Don’t talk about what your ideal job is not. It dwells on the negative which is interview poison.

If you have a hard time trying to answer this question, or any other interview question for that matter, feel free to reach out to one of our recruiters. They’re experienced in determining exactly what a company wants and can even give you a few answers of their own.

by James Walsh

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