How To Answer “What Is Your Dream Job?”

By David Luther - Jan. 22, 2021
Articles In Guide

Find a Job You Really Want In

“What’s your dream job?”

This question, unlike many of the most common interview questions, actually has a right answer.

But if you respond to “what’s your dream job?” with any answer that resembles “this one,” then I can guarantee you two things:

  1. You are not the first person to think you’re that clever.

  2. You will look like a silly little goober.

Instead, you should make an effort to connect your answer to the job you’re interviewing for.

Just like “where do you see yourself in five years?”, the interviewer wants to make sure that the job you’re interviewing for matches up with the one you really want — so you need to be sure that you don’t imply that it’s a temporary pitstop, but instead a checkpoint on the way to your fulfilling life.

dream job

And as nice as that may be, the interviewer isn’t necessarily trying to make sure you’ll reach the pinnacle of self-actualization.

Rather, they want satisfied employees who see a benefit from doing excellent work.

Your real goal in answering this question is to describe a position that the job you’re applying for could feasibly help you reach — and our goal is to show you how.

Why Hiring Managers Ask “What Is Your Dream Job?”

By the time you’ve made it to the job interview, the odds are that the hiring manager or recruiter at least suspects that you have some of the qualifications for this job — the interview serves to confirm it, clear up any questions, and — in the case of this question — see how motivated you are for the position in question.

So why do hiring managers and recruiters bother asking? They’re more or less trying to do three things:

  1. Get a glimpse of your values and what motivates you as an employee. Hiring someone is expensive, so they want to make sure you’ll stick around.

  2. Figure out if you have the skills necessary to do the job. Seeing what skills you mention and value gives some oblique insight into this. Your strengths and weaknesses might factor into this answer, as it’s likely that your dream job would rely heavily on your strengths and avoid your weaknesses.

  3. Determine your career goals. Your career goals are on display with this answer. The recruiter or hiring manager wants to know if the job you’re applying for is a stepping stone to a long term career goal. If it’s not, they might be a little concerned that you’ll be unhappy in the position.

How to Prepare an Answer to “What Is Your Dream Job?”

You should really do yourself a favor, if you haven’t at this point, and figure out what it is that you value in the jobs you hunt for.

Do you want to work outside? Is it important to you that you are able to be creative? Would you feel confined if you weren’t able to socialize with others?

In addition to making your overall job search easier, identifying what you do and do not want in a job will allow you to be genuine when you answer not just this interview question, but all of them.

Ultimately, you should tie your answer back to the job you’re applying for (as with most job interview questions, regardless of if they’re situational or behavioral interview questions).

So we’ve already said not to just say that it isn’t your dream job, but we also said not to say that it is — what gives?

First, don’t be too specific here on the title of your job, unless your dream job is genuinely the one you’re interviewing for. Which it probably isn’t.

The smart play is to think about what that job is (don’t tell them) and what it is about the position that makes it your ideal career, and then describe those characteristics in terms that relate to the job you’re interviewing for.

Would you love to work as an NFL player’s agent but you’re interviewing for a customer service position in a bank? Talk about how your ideal position would involve acting as the spokesman for your clients while operating within strict rules.

Say you wish you could sell (and sample) wine to restaurants, but you’re applying for an office supplies sales position. Discuss how you would love to put a product that you personally love and believe in in the hands of others, thereby helping them.

Mention Skills When Answering “What Is Your Dream Job?”

It doesn’t have to be a job title as specific as account executive or features writer but can instead include different duties you would enjoy having as part of your position.

Your profile can also include skills you enjoy using and the type of company culture you thrive in. Describe what it is about this dream job that you love, and then back it up with personal professional examples that lead you to believe this is your dream job.

The job itself isn’t really important, it’s what about this job that you love that matters. You want to analyze what qualities the dream job has in common with the position you’re applying for.

You can look back at your past accomplishments as you answer this question. Questions to ask yourself include:

Take a look at the job listing and the company’s page, looking for skills, qualities, and responsibilities that are in line with the ones that you listed on your resume — because that’s probably why they asked you to interview anyway.

Talk About the Workplace in Your Answer

Once you’ve figured out what it is that you genuinely care about in both your dream job and the job you’re applying for, it’s an easy next step to just describe a workplace that’s similar — and oh my goodness guess what, it’s where you’re applying!

And the best thing about this answer is that it can be true. Your Talk About the Workplace in Your Answer

Once you’ve figured out what it is that you genuinely care about in both your dream job and the job you’re applying for, it’s an easy next step to just describe a workplace that’s similar — and oh my goodness guess what, it’s where you’re applying!

And the best thing about this answer is that it can be true. Your work environment is probably the single most important factor in your day-to-day happiness, unless you’re in crippling poverty and starving because your paycheck is so low.

Even if you love video games and your ideal job is as a video game tester, it’d likely be more enjoyable if you were testing games for a company you respected from the comfort of your home, rather than, say, any Walmart in America.

For this reason, answers that focus on the company and its mission rather than the position may be the best route.

Example Answers to “What Is Your Dream Job?”

We’re sure you’ve already got some good ideas of how to answer this interview question by now, but below are some examples of the best ways to answer:

  1. Example Answer To What Is Your Dream Job? Using The Following Job Posting
    Example Description for answering Whats Your Dream Job

    “My dream job is to manage a team of online marketers that creates creative and valuable channels of user acquisition across various verticals.

    I want to continue to grow my client-facing skills while improving my understanding of SEO and content generation. I have worked on several campaigns and believe that I have the skills to manage a team after several more years of developing my skills and knowledge.”

  2. Example Answer 2: Sales Position

    “I enjoy talking to people and meeting new people every day. My dream job is one where I can interact with clients and deliver a product that I truly believe in.

    In my last position, I regularly exceeded sales quotas and cold calls because I had genuine fun doing it. I look forward to following my passion, and I feel this job incorporates a lot of the elements that I naturally enjoy.”

  3. Example Answer 3: Game Developer

    “I’ve been enthralled with video games since I played N64 as a kid, and my passion hasn’t died down one bit in adulthood. Combined with my love for new technology, computers, and everything nerd-related, my dream job combines my strengths with my passions. My dream job would allow for my curiosity and drive to learn new skills continue while putting forth creative work that I’m proud of.”

  4. What Not to Say to “What Is Your Dream Job?”

    Before we go, we thought we’d mention a few things you definitely shouldn’t say when answering this at a job interview:

    • Something too specific. If it seems like your goals are too narrow, the interviewer may think you’ll be unsatisfied with the path the position will put you on. As mentioned before, describe the responsibilities, not the job.

    • This position. No one is charming enough to pull that bullsh*t off. Of course, you don’t want to tell them that this isn’t that ideal of a job for you. But that doesn’t mean that this job and the dream don’t share some common qualities.

    • Something exceedingly unrealistic. Don’t talk about being an astronaut or secret agent. We believe in your dreams, but the hiring manager looking for an accountant might raise an eyebrow.

    • Something unrelated. Again, this question isn’t really to learn about your private passions but instead what you as an employee value. So what good is it going to do you in an interview for an entry-level administrative assistant position in Milwaukee to announce that being a restaurant critic for the New York Times is your passion?

    • CEO. For starters, it’s vague, but it’s also off-putting. Don’t come across as overly ambitious or indicate that you don’t have a grasp of a realistic career path.

    Final Thoughts

    As an interviewee, there are a lot of good ways to answer this question. Be prepared by considering your accomplishments and qualifications, but by also focusing on how you want to use your skills.

    When you are asked about your dream job, it’s important that you put the emphasis on the challenges and type of work environment you are looking for rather than any specific job, and that you make your answer relevant and tailored to the position you’re applying for.

    Remember, the most common interview questions don’t have to be the scariest.

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David Luther

David Luther was the Content Marketing Editor for the Zippia Advice blog. He developed partnerships with external reporting agencies in addition to generating original research and reporting for the Zippia Career Advice blog. David obtained his BA from UNC Chapel Hill.

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