Source: This article was originally published on CNBC.
Written by: Courtney Connley, CNBC Make It
Whether you’re interviewing for an entry-level role or eyeing a seat in the C-suite, it’s more than likely you’ll face the question:
What’s your dream job?
While it may seem simple to answer the “What’s your dream job?” question, this common interview query can be trickier to respond to than you may think.
The correct answer seems so obvious, right? But trust me, it isn’t. You have to be careful to avoid the pitfalls of this question, some of which are obvious—and others, which are hidden in plain sight.
To craft the perfect dream job response, follow these three tips:
1. Understand what hiring managers are listening for
To answer this question correctly, you must first understand the type of information an interviewer is hoping to get out of your response.
Yes, they want to get a sense of your passions and interests, but they’re actually testing you to see if you understand the requirements of the job you’re applying for, and whether you’ll be satisfied with the job if you get it.
To put it plainly, hiring managers are listening for an answer that will prove you’re a great fit for the company. Avoid responses like, “This is my dream job,” or, “I’d love to run this company someday.” Even if they are true, the first one sounds phony and the second one “screams of pretension.”
2. Convince them you can get the job done
Instead of describing your dream job with a specific title, you should deliver a response that details the skills and responsibilities that come with your dream position.
When doing this, you want to be sure that most of the qualities you outline align with the job you’re interviewing for.
Say something like, “My dream job would involve a lot of problem-solving, especially using data analysis.” Or something like, “I love teamwork, so my dream job would definitely involve all kinds of collaboration.”
3. Don’t be caught by surprise
Even if you’re caught off-guard by this question, stay focused.
When I ask candidates about their dream job, I love to hear the opening phrase, “Well, I’ve thought about this question a lot.”
This response is impressive to me and other hiring managers because it proves that you’ve given your career trajectory some serious thought.
Look, ‘What is your dream job?’ is one of the toughest questions in an interviewer’s arsenal. It sounds all soft and speculative—tempting you to answer like anything goes. But rather than blurting out anything, you should plan for this question with an answer that shows your head isn’t in the clouds, and your eyes are on the prize of the real job awaiting you.
Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator, and public speaker. Through its online MBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute transforms the lives of its students by providing them with the tools to become better leaders, build great teams, and help their organizations win.